Breaking news and analysis from the world of science policy

  • (Self)Censorship on Sex Grants

    Five years ago, the U.S. Congress sent a shudder through the biomedical research community when lawmakers came close to pulling funding for four National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants on sexual behavior. The controversy widened when a conservative group circulated a list of about 200 grants on sex- and AIDS-related topics and NIH scrambled to defend the research.

  • It's a Man's World

    The United Kingdom is the big winner—and women are the major losers—in the first round of grants for "advanced scientists" awarded by the European Research Council (ERC). The final results, released earlier this month, show that U.K. institutions will host 21% of the 275 grants, worth up to €3.5 million each and reserved for well-established scientists.

  • Grassley to NIH: Crack the Whip

    Expect no letup in the investigation of U.S. biomedical researchers who violate conflict-of-interest regulations. So says Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA), who’s been hammering scientists who receive pay from drug companies but fail to comply with U.S. rules requiring them to report such outside income.

  • And the £75,000 winner is....

    Many groups, even government agencies such as NASA, have begun to use prizes and competitions to push research in a more goal-oriented direction. The latest contest, just launched by the Financial Times, HP and the Forum for the Future, seeks innovative solutions to climate change and will award £75,000 for the best one. Yet the solution must be more than a great idea.

  • 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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