Each week, the Science family of publications publishes articles that are likely to be of interest to Science Careers readers. So, every Friday, we're pointing our readers toward articles that hold some relevance to careers in science and other technical fields. Note that many of the articles appearing in Science Translational Medicine (STM), Science Signaling, and Science require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers), a Science subscription, or a site license.
► Some NASA scientists breathed a sigh of relief after NASA officials revealed on Wednesday that they had managed to find funding to extend seven planetary science missions, reported Eric Hand at ScienceInsider. The announcement followed a scientific review of the missions; it was feared that two of them—the Mars rover Opportunity and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter—would be shut down. As it happened, the newer Mars rover, Curiosity, got the worst score of the bunch. “The panel essentially said, ‘Drive less and do more science,’ ” says Bill Knopf, NASA's lead program executive for planetary mission operations at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. But funding came through for all seven projects.
► Many RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology scientists may lose jobs because of a misconduct case. “Two discredited papers have subjected a leading Japanese research center to an extraordinary form of collective punishment,” wrote Dennis Normile in this week’s Science. “On 27 August, chemist Ryoji Noyori, president of RIKEN, Japan's biggest research institution, announced that its Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe will be stripped of half of its 500-plus staff, renamed, and put under new management.” It’s a reaction—critics say an overreaction—to Haruko Obokata and the stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) scandal. RIKEN found Obokata guilty of falsifications and fabrications, and two papers published in Nature in late January were withdrawn. On Thursday Normile reported that RIKEN will conduct a new misconduct investigation related to the research reported in those papers. An announcement on RIKEN’s website says that the committee will investigate issues that have emerged since the first investigation.
And on Friday, Normile reported that Japanese researchers will soon be subject to new ethics oversight. Starting next year, scientists applying for Japanese government grants will be required to read a manual promoting research integrity. “By the following year, individual laboratories and institutions will need to show that they are moving to implement the manual's recommendations or equivalent alternatives,” Normile wrote. Makoto Asashima, executive director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, told ScienceInsider that the manual “is not a response to the STAP problem.”
► An unpublished report from Italian police names Ilaria Capua, a prominent scientist who is now a member of the Italian Parliament, as part of “a criminal organization” that colluded to profit from Italy’s battle with avian influenza, Laura Margottini reported in this week’s Science. Capua denies the charges.
► In “Estimating the Ebola epidemic,” Kai Kupferschmidt described the work of the modelers who, working with too little data and too much uncertainty, are trying to predict the course of the Ebola outbreak.
► In a feature article in this week’s Science, Jocelyn Kaiser profiled epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University, who has risen to prominence in the controversy over risky research—in particular, “gain-of-function experiments that create potential pandemic pathogens.” Lipsitch has a surprising background for a scientist at the center of a virology debate: He majored in philosophy at Yale University and earned a Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Oxford. “ ‘I do think scientists have a responsibility to use what we know to be socially useful,’ says Lipsitch, who comes across as resolute yet soft-spoken.” Also see the related editorial.
► Don’t miss this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life column.
► What’s the biggest science-career-related news in this week’s Science? That’s easy: A team of scientists from the United States and France has produced a high-quality draft genome of Coffea canephora. That’s right: They sequenced coffee. Also see the related Perspective.