Elsewhere in Science, 01 May 2015



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 Medicine (STM)Science Signaling, and Science require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► The potency of new gene-editing technologies presents new ethical quandaries for scientists—as demonstrated by the debate following an announcement that a Chinese team had altered genes in a human embryo. Late last Friday  at ScienceInsider, Jocelyn Kaiser and Dennis Normile wrote that “although scientists are united in their opposition to any clinical application of such embryo manipulation, they are split on the value of basic research that involves genetically modifying human embryos,”  Then on Tuesday, Kaiser wrote that “[t]he journal that days ago published the first-ever paper on an attempt to genetically modify human embryos has come out in defense of its decision and rebuffed claims that the paper was not adequately peer reviewed.”

► The Greek government is raiding research funds to pay public-sector salaries, and “Greek scientists are angry and incredulous.” Edwin Cartlidge wrote about it Monday at ScienceInsider.  

► The U.S. Census Bureau announced this week that it won’t drop a question about college majors, or several other questions, from its annual American Community Survey. “The National Science Foundation had spent years lobbying for the Census Bureau to include the college-major question, arguing that it is essential for monitoring trends in the scientific workforce,” Jeffrey Mervis wrote Tuesday at ScienceInsider.

► “[A] peer reviewer’s suggestion that two female researchers find ‘one or two male biologists’ to co-author and help them strengthen a manuscript they had written and submitted to a journal [has] unleashed an avalanche of disbelief and disgust on Twitter” —and prompted an apology from the publisher of the journal, which media reports have identified as PLOS ONE, wrote Science Careers writer Rachel Bernstein Wednesday at ScienceInsider. Today we learned that PLOS had taken action, removing the reviewer from its list of reviewers and asking the editor to step down.

► “An ambitious effort in the U.S. House of Representatives to jump-start biomedical innovation took another step forward today with the release of a bipartisan draft bill,” wrote Kaiser and Kelly Servick Wednesday at ScienceInsider. “The so-called 21st Century Cures Act contains huge news for supporters of biomedical research: It recommends substantial budget increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $10 billion in extra funding over 5 years. Other provisions aimed at speeding the drug approval process at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are mostly unchanged from an earlier version, but some incentives for drug developers have been removed.

“Although the call for increased NIH funding is aspirational—the bill can only recommend funding levels, not require congressional appropriators to provide the cash—it is still ‘some of the best news for NIH funding since 2003,’ says Patrick White, president of Act for NIH, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C.”

► “[A]t the annual Forum on Science and Technology Policy, …  John Holdren had harsh words for the America COMPETES Act approved last week by the House science committee,” Mervis wrote in a Thursday ScienceInsider. “‘In my personal opinion, the COMPETES bill as it now stands is bad for science, it’s bad for scientists and engineers, bad for the federal science agencies, and damaging to the world-leading U.S. scientific enterprise,’ Holdren told the Washington, D.C., audience.”

Mervis wrote that Holdren “also expressed concern about a bill being marked up … by the science committee to reauthorize NASA programs,” but he “was more restrained.” “I’ve long said that the big problem with NASA is that it is trying to fit 20 pounds of missions into a 10-pound budget. NASA has an enormously diverse array of responsibilities … and its $18 billion budget, which may seem large, has never been enough to do what is desirable in all those domains,” Holdren said.

► In a policy forum in this week’s STM, four physician scientists expressed concern that a recent “shift toward new models of medical education in which research plays a minimal role … threatens the quality of education received by our future biomedical workforce as well as the pipeline of physician-scientists—important consequences that have received little attention.”   

► Also in this week’s STM, Ambika Mathur and four coauthors (including Cynthia Fuhrmann, a member of the team that created Science Careers’ myIDP), describe NIH’s Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program, which aims “to enhance career preparation for graduate pre- and postdoctoral biomedical research trainees.” See Science Careers’ coverage of the BEST program here.

► In this week's Letters section, Carri J. LeRoy of Evergreen State College in Olympia explained what it’s like to present in-prison science lectures as part of the Sustainability in Prisons Project. “After presenting … several times, I realized how little I needed to alter my material for incarcerated students. Their hunger for information overwhelms their lack of exposure to science education, and their questions are just as keen as those of my brightest college students,” LeRoy wrote. Ultimately, her “biggest surprise was that physical boundaries are just those—talking about science transforms us from people on the inside versus the outside to just people talking about ideas.”

► Also in Letters, Todd L. Pittinsky of Stony Brook University in New York touched on “America's crisis of faith in science.” “Scientists do not typically think it is their business to inspire faith. Their job is to provide facts,” Pittinsky writes. “But to solve the pressing problems that require public acceptance of well-established science—from global warming to vaccinations to the increasing overuse of antibiotics—scientists must indeed inspire more public faith in their methods and their mutually enforced trustworthiness.”

►In this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life story, Gerry Cobian explains how he went from serving as a Marine in Iraq to studying botany in Hawaii. “You couldn't ask for a better place to be alone,” Cobian says of the forests there.

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