Elsewhere in Science, 11 July 2014

Retraction Notice

Each week, Science publishes a number of articles that are likely to be of interest to career-minded readers. Because those articles are published on the other Science sites, Science Careers readers could easily overlook them.

To remedy that, every Friday we're pointing our readers toward articles appearing in Science (the print magazine), online news, Science Translational Medicine (Sci. TM), and Science Signaling—that hold some relevance to careers in science and other technical fields. (Note that articles appearing in Sci. TM, Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS [the publisher of Science Careers] membership, a Science subscription, or a site license.)

“Let's try to fix this, and if we cannot fix this, let's do something else.” —Zachary Mainen

► On Wednesday at ScienceInsider, Jocelyn Kaiser wrote about the first big success for the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)—in particular the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases program, which “launched in 2009 with the aim of helping NIH and university scientists develop treatments for disorders that pharma has ignored because the target patient population is too small or poor.” The program helped develop Aes-103, “a small molecule for treating sickle cell disease.” In conjunction with AesRx, a biotech company in Newton, Massachusetts, and with NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NCATS helped move the drug through to phase II clinical trials. Now Baxter International has acquired AesRx and the rights to Aes-103 and aims to commercialize the drug.

► Three weeks ago, we mentioned that that Scripps Research Institute was in merger talks with the University of California in Los Angeles. Those talks were called off this week following a Scripps faculty revolt, as Robert Service wrote on Thursday at ScienceInsider.

► The science budget request from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is good news for clean water, biotechnology, and higher education, but it looks like the physical sciences will take a huge hit. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, “a stronghold in physical sciences,” should receive just $46 million in the 2014 to 2015 fiscal year, about a third less than it received last year. The science budget as a whole is up about $20 billion, but that increase probably won’t keep pace with inflation, Pallava Bagla wrote Thursday at ScienceInsider.

► Disclosure of the clandestine peer-review ring that apparently permitted a tiny band of conspirators using fake e-mail identities to review each other’s papers reveals “lax reviewing practice,” as is noted in the title of colleague John Bohannon’s Thursday ScienceInsider. Physicist Peter Chen (also known as Chen-Yuan Chen) of Taiwan’s National Pingtung University of Education reportedly constructed an elaborate web of over a hundred fake e-mail addresses and used it to get some 60 papers—all now retracted—into the Journal of Vibration and Control, which apparently did not have sufficient control of its own reviewing process. A slip-up led to a 14-month investigation by SAGE, the journal’s publisher, which uncovered the plot. The investigation also led to Chen’s resignation, in February 2014, from his university post, SAGE reports. 

We’re tempted to express regret over his resignation, because he’s obviously an original and creative thinker with plenty of determination and drive. If only he’d applied those qualities to his research instead of to this complicated scheme.

► In an In Depth article in this week’s Science, Martin Enserink and Kai Kupferschmidt wrote that some European neuroscientists are unhappy with plans for Europe’s €1 billion Human Brain Project (HBP), finding it too narrow and poorly managed. More than 300 scientists signed a letter published on 7 July, threatening to boycott the project if reforms aren’t made. “The group asks the commission to tighten a planned review of the project and make corrections, threatening to boycott HBP if that does not happen. ‘Let's try to fix this, and if we cannot fix this, let's do something else,’ says Zachary Mainen of the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, one of the driving forces behind the letter. “The list of signatories ‘reads like a Who's Who of European neuroscience,’ says Anthony Movshon, a neuroscientist at New York University in New York City. ‘It's a chorus of voices that cannot be ignored.’ ”

► In “In Praise of Early Independence,” this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life column, Elizabeth Pain interviewed Tim Hunt, who urges early-career scientists to “somehow get independent when you are really young, and take responsibility.”

► Despite the subject matter, it’s always a pleasure to read Science’s annual special section on HIV/AIDS, which is in this week’s issue. This year’s feature focuses on Australia and its neighbors. Start with the introductory essay by Jon Cohen, “ Australia shows its neighbors how to stem an epidemic.”

Top Image: CREDIT: Journal of Vibration and Control

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