Science  17 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5763, pp. 41
  1. Movers


    CHANGING SIDES. The latest official to spin through Washington's revolving door is Lester Crawford, a veteran Food and Drug Administration official who left FDA last fall after 2 months as commissioner. The 67-year-old Crawford, who cited his age as the reason for retiring, last month joined a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, Policy Directions Inc., as senior counsel. The firm's recent clients include Merck, the National Association for Biomedical Research, and PhRMA, an industry group.

    “This is, at the least, ethically a serious conflict of interest,” says Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit and frequent critic of FDA. Crawford won't be lobbying the agency, the firm says, and will therefore stay on the right side of a federal law that prevents such activity by ex-administrators for a year after quitting government. “A lobbyist can still be effective without lobbying his former colleagues” directly, says Massie Ritsch of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics.

  2. Politics


    POLICY KING. A Canadian banker turned policy guru has been named the first president of the Canadian Academies of Science (CAS).

    Peter Nicholson, 63 (above), lost his job last month as a top adviser to Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin after Canadian voters replaced Martin with Conservative Stephen Harper. Nicholson's diverse experience “inside and outside government” makes him an obvious choice for the job, says CAS Chair Howard Alper.

    Royal Society past president William Leiss, who campaigned for a decade for the creation of the academies (Science, 22 October 2004, p. 589), is disappointed that CAS didn't pick somebody from among the 2200 elected members of its three founding organizations: the Royal Society, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Canadian Institute of Advanced Medicine. “This is Canada doing its own thing once again,” he says.

    Nicholson hopes to silence such critics with his performance. “My approach to public service has been pretty nonpartisan,” he asserts. He'll have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate that: A stated goal of CAS is to crank out 50 reports over the next 10 years on a variety of issues to be selected by the government.

  3. Money Matters

    PATRON SAINT. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, this month received $100 million for stem cell research and other campus initiatives from an anonymous donor thought to be Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York City. The former chair of the university's board of trustees and a 1964 graduate of the school, Bloomberg has publicly given Hopkins $107 million in previous years and similar amounts anonymously, according to The Baltimore Sun.

    Bloomberg has not denied news reports identifying him as the man behind the donation. Johns Hopkins spokesperson Dennis O'Shea won't confirm or deny that the gift comes from him. But he says “it is very clear that Mayor Bloomberg considers public health issues extremely important.”

  4. Movers


    GLOBAL IMPACT. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has picked a senior drug industry researcher to lead its efforts to bring new drugs and vaccines to the developing world. Tadataka Yamada, 60, chair of research and development at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) since 2001, will become executive director of the $28.8 billion foundation's global health program in June. He replaces Richard Klausner, who left in December to head a new venture capital fund in Seattle, Washington.

    A physician and former chair of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, Yamada tried to make GSK's research more efficient by organizing scientists around a half-dozen disease-specific teams. His background makes him well suited to help the foundation unite academic researchers and industry behind treatments for neglected diseases, says Seth Berkley, president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

  5. Awards


    ENVIRONMENTAL SYNERGY. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan hopes to turn a $500,000 prize for environmental leadership into a foundation to promote agriculture and women's education in Africa. Last week, Annan received half of the Zayed Prize, funded by the crown prince of Dubai, for launching the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment project (Science, 1 April 2005, p. 41). A $300,000 slice of the biennial $1 million prize went to the global assessment project itself, and the remaining $200,000 to panel co-chairs Angela Cropper and Emil Salim, the former Indonesian environmental minister.

    Annan first emerged as an environment champion at the 2002 world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has stood out among environment advocates for his focus on “the link between ecosystems and long-term economic health,” says James Sniffen of the U.N. Environment Programme in New York City.

    Previous Zayed winners include former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and Nigerian climate scientist Godwin Obasi, co-founder of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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