Breaking news and analysis from the world of science policy

  • Has biomedical research on chimpanzees come to an end?

    All invasive research projects on chimpanzees must legally come to an end next month.

    All invasive research projects on chimpanzees must legally come to an end next month.

    Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/AP images

    Zero. That’s the number of labs that have applied for a permit to conduct invasive research on chimpanzees in the United States, as required by a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule. The number suggests that all biomedical research on chimps has stopped—or is about to stop—and it’s unclear whether the work will ever start up again.

    “This is the beginning of the end of invasive chimpanzee research,” says Stephen Ross, the director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, who pushed for the FWS rule. “Scientists have seen the writing on the wall.”

    Biomedical research on chimpanzees has been waning since 2013, when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it would phase out most government-funded chimp research and retire the majority of its research chimps to sanctuaries. The most recent blow came in June, when FWS stated that all U.S. chimpanzees—including the more than 700 chimps used in research—would be classified as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Any labs that wished to continue invasive work on these animals would need to apply for an ESA permit, and permits would only be allowed for work that enhances the survival of the species and benefits chimpanzees in the wild.

  • Privacy: Congratulations, aren't you clever?

    Congratulations! You successfully decoded the encrypted URL on Science’s cover (or, um, took a shortcut by following a link someone sent you). Below you’ll find a key to the data we embedded in the cover image, which include privacy-related publications and events—and potentially private details about an individual’s health, movements, and behavior.

  • The sound of Proto-Indo-European

    The following parable, called "The King and the God," is based on an ancient Sanskrit hymn and is translated and recorded in Proto-Indo-European by linguist Andrew Byrd of the University of Kentucky.

    H3rḗḱs dei̯u̯ós-kwe

  • U.S.-Russia tensions put a chill on ice disaster research effort

    An ice jam contributed to flooding in Galena, Alaska, in 2013.

    An ice jam contributed to flooding in Galena, Alaska, in 2013.

    Alaska DOT&PF/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)



    As tensions between the United States and Russia remain high, funding for a program to share knowledge between the two nations on disasters known as ice jam floods has been thrown into disarray by U.S. sanctions. Now, scientists are going hat-in-hand to collect funds to save the effort.

    “Sometimes political decisions [trump] scientific cooperation,” says Tuyara Gavrileva, a social scientist with the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, Russia. “The law is the law.”    

    Ice jam floods generally occur in the Arctic in the spring, when rapid warming can break up river ice, creating obstructions and flooding of nearby settlements. The new joint research project, run by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF), and Gavrileva’s university , focuses on two towns that  both experienced catastrophic floods in May 2013: Galena, Alaska, and Edeytsy, Russia. Most public infrastructure in Edeytsy, in the Sakha republic, was destroyed in the floods, and some 1300 people were displaced. In Galena, floods drove 60% of residents from their homes.

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