Grant Odds Go Up, UC Budget Goes Down

Here's a rundown of some of the stories we've been tracking on Science's policy blog, ScienceInsider:

The competition for Grand Opportunities grants at NIH, which start at $1 million and use stimulus money, has drawn 2400 letters of intent, which contrasts with the 20,000 applications submitted for the smaller Challenge Grants. NIH officials expect success rates for the grants to be as high as 10%. Meanwhile, NIH plans to fund more than 30% of the 1600 scientists who have applied to expand an existing grant. In other NIH news, the agency has announced a $120 million, 5-year plan to set up a drug-development service center that will focus on rare and neglected diseases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week sought to reassure the public that a vaccine for swine flu would be ready by late fall, in time to combat a possible comeback by the H1N1 virus. CDC's statement came after a World Health Organization working group estimated that it could be December before authorities are able to start immunizing people. To track the swine flu epidemic, see our regularly updated timeline.

Last week's resounding defeat of ballot measures aimed at helping California's finances spells bad news for the University of California (UC). Even before the vote, UC had instituted hiring and salary freezes and raised student fees by 9.3%. The university now faces a possible $322 million reduction in budget, which could lead to further fee increases, larger classes, and pay cuts.

For more breaking news and analysis from the world of science policy, check out ScienceInsider.