Elsewhere in Science, 5 December 2014

Hans Rosling shares an office with Liberia’s head of Ebola surveillance, Luke Bawo.

Credit: Daniel Van Moll/LAIF

Each week, the Science family of publications publishes articles that are likely to be of interest to Science Careers readers. So, every week, we're pointing our readers toward articles relevant to careers in science and other technical fields. Many of the articles appearing in Science Translational MedicineScience Signaling, and Science require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► On Monday at ScienceInsider, John Bohannon reported that the Nature Publishing Group (NPG) will start offering limited free access to all of its scientific articles. The new system will allow subscribers to share links to read-only versions of its articles that cannot be printed. Also, “for an initial group of 100 news outlets and science blogs,” links to an NPG paper will automatically redirect to the free, read-only version. For the publisher, it’s an effort to address the “dark sharing” problem in which scientists and readers share PDF copies, making it difficult to gauge how often they’re being read.  

► Scientists working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had a high-profile visitor on Tuesday, as Kelley Servick reported at ScienceInsider. President Barack Obama gave a talk at the NIH Clinical Center and then toured the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center. “[T]he visit also comes as the White House awaits action from Congress on a nearly $6.2 billion emergency appropriations request to continue fighting [Ebola] in West Africa and to move candidate vaccines through clinical trials. The request, made on 12 November, allots $238 million to NIH. [NIAID Director Anthony] Fauci says $56 million of the total would go toward a larger efficacy trial in Liberia, which would include both the NIAID/GSK [GlaxoSmithKline] vaccine and another made by NewLink Genetics of Ames, Iowa (pending more data from ongoing safety trials).”

► In a 2012 feature focused on research and careers in rural northern Brazil, we profiled Miguel Nicolelis and mentioned the big neuroscience lab he was building on a hilly site in the outskirts of Natal, a city in Brazil’s northeast  with about 1 million residents. Emily Underwood reported in this week’s Science that Brazil’s government plans to invest some $100 million in the laboratory, which opened in 2012. Nicolelis stresses that the money won’t come out of anyone else’s pot, but other Brazilian scientists are unhappy. “Last week, Brazil's largest scientific organization wrote a letter on behalf of more than 120 scientific societies” protesting the decision, Underwood wrote. “Allocating substantial resources for an ad-hoc initiative without, to our knowledge, the initiative having been vetted according to the scientific policies currently in effect represents a serious breach of protocol,” writes the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science. 

► In this week’s Science, Kai Kupferschmidt profiled “global health celebrity” Hans Rosling, “a former head of the Division of Global Health at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm whose riveting lectures have made him a star of TED talks, and a fixture of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.” Since late October, Kupferschmidt wrote, Rosling “has occupied room 319 of Liberia's Ministry of Health & Social Welfare, a large yellow building not far from the Atlantic Ocean. Working alongside the country's head of Ebola surveillance, Luke Bawo, he is helping the ministry make sense of the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded.” “He just walked into the office and introduced himself,” says Luke Bawo, Liberia’s head of Ebola surveillance. 

► On Thursday at ScienceInsider, David Malakoff reported the confirmation of a scientist to a top position at the Department of Energy (DOE). Chemical engineer Franklin "Lynn" Orr, a professor and administrator at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, was confirmed to fill the new position of undersecretary for science and energy after having been nominated for the position back in November 2013. Today (Friday) the Senate is expected to confirm another 2013 nominee, “physicist Ellen Williams, the former chief scientist at energy giant BP and a longtime professor at the University of Maryland, College Park,” as the second head of DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. So far, no vote is scheduled on the confirmation of physicist Marc Kastner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, President Obama’s choice to lead DOE’s Office of Science, Malakoff writes.

► Also on Thursday, a New York appellate court “rejected a lawsuit by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to free a chimp named Tommy from captivity,” as David Grimm reported at ScienceInsider. “The group had argued that the chimpanzee deserved the human right of bodily liberty.”

“In our view,” the court concluded, “it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights … that have been afforded to human beings.” If the courts were to conclude that chimps are entitled to the rights afforded human beings, some animal research could be affected. Indeed, two of the chimps NhRP has been trying to free are lab animals at Stony Brook University.

► Later in the day, Malakoff reported that a Wednesday vote by the U.S. House of Representatives makes it all but certain that the R&D tax credit will be renewed—but only for 1 year. Those hoping that the tax break would be made permanent were disappointed. “ ‘This is a lousy way to run a tax code. It is a lousy way to run a government,’ said Representative Ron Kind (D–WI). ‘I think individuals and businesses, large and small, need greater certainty.’ ” Industry groups were also disappointed.

► Today at ScienceInsider, Malakoff reported that budget legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday would cancel 7% cuts to basic research conducted at universities for the U.S. military. The cuts were proposed in the White House budget request. The legislation would instead increase spending by about 2%, to $2.1 billion.

► In this week’s Science editorial, Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt calls for moving beyond publications, citations, journal impact factors, “and derivatives of these such as the h-index” in efforts to measure the merit of research. “What if, instead, we assess young scientists according to their willingness to take risks, ability to work as part of a diverse team, creativity in complex problem-solving, and work ethic?” she proposes. “It is time to remedy a flawed bibliometric-based assessment for young scientists. After all, the future performance of a trillion-dollar enterprise is at stake.”

► In this week’s Science Careers produced Working Life column, Vincent Scalfani notes that sometimes it’s our greatest struggles that do the most to make us who we are.

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