Science  09 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5741, pp. 1659

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  1. Committee: Nurture DOD Tissue Bank

    1. Jocelyn Kaiser

    An expert panel has recommended that the imperiled Armed Forces Institute of Pathology's (AFIP's) vast tissue bank stay in government hands and be given adequate resources.

    AFIP in Washington, D.C., is being closed and its parts transferred as part of the latest round of base closings (Science, 2 September, p. 1472). A terse Department of Defense (DOD) recommendation to preserve the 3-million-case repository, however, sparked concerns that it would be mothballed without needed staff and expertise. At a conference last week in Washington, a 12-member panel chaired by former Stanford medical school dean David Korn concluded in a draft statement that the repository is in “excellent condition” and “should be maintained as a vibrant, living” resource and made more widely available to outside scientists. The U.S. government should retain ownership and provide adequate professional and technical staff, the panel said. Congress may need to enact statutory authority to carry out the panel's final recommendations, which were to go to DOD this week.

  2. Roberts's AIDS Memo Criticized

    1. Jon Cohen

    Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John Roberts may find himself confronted during Senate hearings by a position he took about AIDS when he worked for President Ronald Reagan.

    In a September 1985 memo about an upcoming presidential press conference, Roberts, then an associate counsel at the White House, advised Reagan not to take sides on the question of whether schoolchildren with AIDS could infect their classmates. Two weeks before Roberts wrote the memo, recommendations from what was then called the Centers for Disease Control said casual contact in schools “appears to pose no risk.” But in the memo, Roberts called the question a “disputed scientific issue.” Reagan apparently took his advice, saying “[M]edicine has not come forth unequivocally and said, 'This we know for a fact, that it is safe.'”

    Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) highlighted and assailed the memo in a 1 September letter to senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who will lead the Roberts hearings. “There was quite a bit of information back then on the lack of household transmission,” says Gerald Friedland, head of the AIDS program at Yale University.

  3. First Woman Head for Pasteur

    1. Martin Enserink

    PARIS— Cell biologist Alice Dautry was appointed managing director of the Pasteur Institute last week, the first woman to head the venerable but troubled lab. She replaces Philippe Kourilsky, who resigned on 31 July amid conflicts over his management style and a controversial plan to move part of the lab to a Paris suburb.

    Dautry, 55, has been with Pasteur since 1977 and leads a 10-member group studying immune system receptors and intracellular bacteria. She is a “very serious and practical” researcher and manager, says colleague Brigitte Gicquel of Pasteur, qualities which should help calm Pasteur's waters. When Dautry chaired a panel drawing up an alternative for the move, “it took her 2 weeks to come up with a plan that was acceptable to everybody,” Gicquel says.

  4. Ban on Papers Lifted

    1. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

    The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) last week permanently ended a ban on papers submitted to its journals and conferences by authors living in countries under a U.S. embargo. (The countries are Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan.) The decision, passed by a unanimous vote at the society's board meeting in Long Beach, California, reverses a policy that was instituted in May to “avoid assisting a nation such as North Korea in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them” (Science, 17 June, p. 1722). After protests from Iranian scientists, AIAA suspended the policy in June.

  5. Consumers Nano-Cautious

    1. Robert F. Service

    Only 11% of Americans believe that voluntary standards among companies selling nano-based products are adequate to protect human and environmental safety, a new U.S. survey has found. The most in-depth study to date, the survey polled focus groups involving 177 consumers nationwide and was released yesterday by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. It found that although individuals don't support a ban on nanotechnology in consumer products, most prefer to know what nanomaterials are in their medicines or ice cream and would like increased premarket testing to ensure that products are safe.