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Elsewhere in Science, 28 November 2014

Robert Langer

Credit: Robert Neubecker

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.

► ScienceInsider has been following the U.S. federal government’s moratorium on gain-of-function research involving certain high-risk pathogens. This week, David Malakoff reported that the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), “which advises the government on life science research that can be used for good or evil,” has approved a statement urging the federal government “to move quickly to clarify and grant urgent exceptions” to the moratorium. There is some confusion among researchers over which viruses and experiments are covered by the moratorium. It’s also unclear what kinds of research are covered by the exception for “urgent” public health needs. “There should be clear definitions and pathways to exceptions where they are needed,” NSABB Chair Samuel Stanley, the president of Stony Brook University in New York, told ScienceInsider in a telephone interview. “We wanted to make clear that there is a sense of urgency. These are not the kinds of thing that should be dragging on for months and months.”

► In Science, Jocelyn Kaiser noted that two government proposals—one from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the other from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—could “vastly expand the amount of data from clinical trials that becomes public.” The HHS draft proposal “would require trial sponsors to report summary results for drugs and devices that are never approved, not just for those that reach the market.” A draft policy from NIH “would expand the requirement—which now applies only to trials regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—to all trials funded by the health agency.”

► On Thursday at ScienceInsider, Tania Rabesandratana reported on a plan by the new boss of the European Commission to raid Europe’s science budget to feed “a new investment fund aimed at boosting Europe's sluggish economy and creating new jobs.” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker “has proposed diverting €2.7 billion from Horizon 2020, the bloc's €70 billion, 7-year research funding program, into a new ‘Investment Plan for Europe.’ ” Not everyone is happy. “ ‘Horizon 2020 is not a lemon! Stop squeezing it!’ said the League of European Research Universities (LERU) in a statement.” 

► In a Perspective, two scientists—one from Stanford University and the other from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—consider the promise of Big Data for improving public health. “Separating the true signal from the gigantic amount of noise is neither easy nor straightforward,” they conclude, “but it is a challenge that must be tackled if information is ever to be translated into societal well-being.”

► In the Science Careers produced Working Life column, Trisha Gura interviewed scientist-entrepreneur Robert Langer. “When somebody is a student or postdoc,” Langer says, “what is going to help them through is to be stretched. Feeling some of that discomfort, knowing how to get through it—the fact that you can prove to yourself that you can get through, and you can do well—that is wonderful, as long as it is not too painful.”