Programs: Science and Policy
Science and Technology in Congress
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) met on October 19th and 20th to discuss the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), often referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In comparison to the House, which is passing separate bills and tackling ESEA reauthorization in a piecemeal fashion, the Senate bill is a comprehensive overhaul of NCLB.
A major difference between the two versions is the Senate's elimination of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a contentious measurement in NCLB used to declare proficiency through standardized testing scores. Over 30 states have applied for waivers to the NCLB-required proficiency in math and reading by 2014, which were offered by the Obama administration in September.
In their opening remarks Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) stressed both that the reauthorization was long overdue and numerous compromises were made in the spirit of advancing a feasible, bipartisan bill. After meeting well into the evening, the committee passed the reauthorization bill by a bipartisan vote of 15-7. The committee considered 53 amendments, of which 23 passed, 10 did not, and 20 were withdrawn.
One amendment submitted by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and co-sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) titled, "Enhancing Education through Technology," would provide funding to ensure the integration of new technology into both the classroom and the education system in general. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) expressed her support for the amendment to address her concern that the education sector is not taking advantage of the predominance of technology in the lives of today's youth and noted, "we have to deliver education to kids in a way that is relevant and captures their attention." Despite Sen. Enzi's concerns about potential difficulties in implementing the program in rural schools with small budgets, the amendment was agreed to by a voice vote.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), along with co-sponsors Blumenthal and Murray, introduced an amendment to establish an Advanced Research Projects Agency – Education (ARPA-ED) within the Department of Education. ARPA-ED would pursue "breakthrough research and development in education technology" and provide "effective use of technology to improve achievement for all students." The creation of ARPA-ED was initially proposed in President Obama's FY 2012 budget request with an initial request of $90 million. The Bennet amendment would fund ARPA-ED from the already existing Investing in Innovation (i3) fund at an amount not to exceed 30 percent of its budget. The amendment was easily adopted by voice vote.
In subsequent press releases and at a final hearing on November 8th, both Harkin and Enzi recognized that continued bipartisan cooperation and negotiation will be needed when the bill reaches the Senate floor, which Harkin hopes to accomplish before Thanksgiving. The House committee on Education and the Workforce has not released any statements as to whether it would support a similar comprehensive bill.
-- Emily Lamb and Joanne Carney
On October 12, the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing on the recent crash of a Russian rocket and its implications for the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and American space flight.
Due to the cancellation of the Constellation program, NASA is entirely dependent on Russia to ferry supplies, fuel and American astronauts back and forth from the ISS. So when an unmanned Russian Soyuz rocket—the same type of rocket slated to be used for future manned flights—crashed into the mountains of Siberia earlier this year, it raised concerns about the strength of the Russian space program and its relationship with NASA.
In his opening remarks, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) inquired about NASA's involvement in the Russian space program's investigation of the rocket failure. He also asked about the level of risk this setback introduced for the American astronauts already onboard the ISS and the research they are conducting.
William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate, assured the committee that the Russian space program was extremely cooperative in conducting their investigation, even allowing NASA to conduct their own independent study. The cause of the recent crash was determined to be contamination in the fuel lines, likely introduced in late-stage inspections. This is an issue of quality control, he said, not a system failure that indicates a problem with the Soyuz rocket type, which has been flying successfully for many decades. He is confident that the current three-person crew aboard the ISS is safe and testified that NASA has contingencies in place to return them to Earth and operate the Station remotely if necessary. Research is continuing, he said, though a larger crew would allow for additional studies. He concluded, "If we all work together, the ISS will continue to be an amazing facility that yields remarkable results and further benefits for the world."
Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford, chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Task Force on ISS Operational Readiness, echoed Gerstenmaier's claim that the Russian space program is competent and highly cooperative, posing no threat to the future of American participation in the ISS. Stafford, who has worked closely with the Russian space program since the era of the Soviet Union, said, "I can attest to their thorough and complete approach to problem solving, and to their robust manufacturing and test program philosophy."
The hearing also touched on the future of commercialization in American space flight. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) asked if NASA's dual focus on partnering with NASA and encouraging domestic commercial projects could create problematic competition in the future. Gerstenmaier insisted that NASA will continue to have both needs, and that he does not expect that commercialization will make NASA's partnership with Russia redundant.
-- Elizabeth Robinson
The House Natural Resources Committee held two hearings in October titled "The President's New National Ocean Policy—a Plan for Further Restrictions on Ocean, Coastal, and Inland Activities." The hearings addressed Executive Order 13547, which President Obama signed on July 19. The order outlines a comprehensive National Ocean Policy (NOP) and creates a National Ocean Council tasked with improving the stewardship of the nation's ocean and coastal resources and streamlining the over 140 regulations currently in place. Under the National Ocean Council, Regional Planning Bodies (RPBs) are created to implement Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP), which the order defines as "a comprehensive, adaptive, integrated, ecosystem-based, and transparent spatial planning process, based on sound science."
The NOP has 10 objectives ranging from promoting ecosystem health and the use of the best available science in decision-making to maintaining maritime cultures and promoting public understanding. It also divides the U.S. into nine regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Great Lakes, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, West Coast, Pacific Islands, and Alaska/Arctic. Each region will have a RPB tasked with CMSP for that region. The main goal of the NOP is to increase the consistency of the decision-making and regulatory process and to allow the U.S. to manage its ocean and coastal resources to maximize benefit from all of the desired uses.
At the first hearing, held October 4, a series of criticisms of the NOP, summarized on the committee website, were raised by Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), witnesses and Representatives from multiple coastal states. Their largest concerns centered on the lack of congressional approval or legislative authority for the creation of a NOP. The critics were uncomfortable with a perceived under-representation of stakeholders and local entities and felt that ocean zoning would restrict access to ocean and coastal resources in unacceptable ways. Witnesses in the October 26 hearing countered many of these arguments, noting that the NOP invites state, tribal and local entities to participate in the RPBs; ocean zoning and CMSP are distinct; and ocean zoning is not mandated under the NOP. Ranking Member Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) defended the NOP, citing bipartisan support for a comprehensive ocean plan over the past ten years and the 22 coastal states that have expressed a need for a NOP. They also argued that the NOP would improve communication and coordination between stakeholders and, by harmonizing the regulations, reduce regulatory uncertainty and thereby encourage investment.
In the October 26 hearing, the committee heard from representatives of the Administration: Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and co-chair of the National Ocean Council, and Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In their opening remarks, Sutley and Lubchenco both stressed the importance of ocean and coastal resources to the entire nation and the need, recognized by both the current and the previous administrations, for an integrated approach to the management of those resources. As Lubchenco pointed out, over half of the population of the U.S. lives in coastal regions and 60 percent of the GDP is related to ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources. Lubchenco testified that the current chaotic regulatory system discourages investment in the development of ocean and coastal resources and stated, "the National Ocean Policy creates order out of chaos." Sutley highlighted the support the National Ocean Council received from members of industry, fisherman and the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard for a CMSP and emphasized the CMSP is not ocean zoning.
The Republican Committee members' questions were largely comprised of demands to know what the Administration saw as the statutory authority to implement the NOP and a resistance to acknowledge the distinction between ocean zoning and CMSP. Several committee members, such as Reps. Flores (R-TX), Runyan (R-NJ), Young (R-AK) and Southerland (R-FL), aggressively sought assurances that the NOP would not further restrict the use of ocean and coastal resources.
The Democratic Committee members largely supported the NOP. Rep. Sarbanes (D-MD) was particularly emphatic in his support for the NOP because it provides a "comprehensive picture to prevent you from doing stupid things" and pointed out that "we either want good information or we just want to put our heads in the sand," critiquing some Republican Committee members' requests for assurances that the NOP would not result in any new regulations. Rep. Tsongas (D-MA) pointed out that the Navy and Coast Guard support CMSP.
The one issue on which both parties seemed to share concerns was ensuring that new seismic data is used when considering potential areas of natural gas and oil deposits. The majority of current data is around 10 years old and, as Rep. Costa (D-CA) pointed out, vast improvements in technology over those 10 years have drastically changed our ability to detect subsurface natural gas and oil resources. The witnesses assured the Committee that the RPBs under the NOP would be required to use the best available science and emphasized the importance of sharing information among agencies and with the public.
While both parties on the Committee recognize the need for a revised regulatory structure with regard to ocean and coastal resources, strong disagreements remain over whether the NOP is the appropriate way to proceed. Sutley and Lubchenco argued that the NOP would create information sharing bodies that would better inform decision makers.
-- Emily Lamb
On November 1, the Senate voted 69-30 to approve a "minibus" package (H.R. 2112) that combined three appropriation bills for FY 2012: Agriculture (H.R.2112); Commerce, Justice, Science (S. 1572); and Transportation (S. 1596). Shortly thereafter, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) announced that the two chambers would hold a joint Conference Committee hearing that same week to pave the way for final passage. The announcement brings hope that similar minibus bills will follow suit and speed passage of all the remaining FY 2012 appropriation bills.
The House Appropriations Committee had approved its Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (H.R.2596) back in July and the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version in mid-September. The CJS bill provides appropriations for several critical research agencies, and the two chambers differ on a number of funding levels for those agencies.
For example, funding levels in the House bill would result in a $139 million (21.5 percent) cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) R&D investment compared to FY 2011 levels. The Senate, on the other hand, would provide an increase of $72 million (11.1 percent).
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is funded at $16.8 billion in the House bill, down $1.6 billion (8.9 percent) from last year with the largest cuts occurring in Space Operations due to the end of the Space Shuttle program and the Science Directorate due to the cancellation of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The Senate, however, would support the continuation of JWST and funds NASA much more generously at $17.9 billion, down just $509 million (2.8 percent).
The two chambers are somewhat closer in agreement on the funding levels for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The House bill funds NIST at $701 million in FY 2012, a $49 million (6.6 percent) decrease from FY 2011 and the Senate bill provides $680 million, a $70 million (9.3 percent) decrease. Both bills cancel most programs under Industrial Technology Services, leaving only the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program. NSF is funded at $6.8 billion in the House bill, the same figure as in FY 2011, and the Senate drops NSF funding by $162 million (2.4 percent) to $6.7 billion.
Details for other appropriation bills also emerged during the month of October.
The Senate Appropriations Committee released the draft text for its Interior and Environment appropriations bill on October 14. The bill would fund Interior's U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at $1.064 billion, $20 million (1.8 percent) less than FY 2011, but $10 million more than the House bill. EPA's Science and Technology account would receive $809 million, $4 million (0.5 percent) less than last year, but $54 million more than the House.
Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee released a draft Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill in late September that would fund the National Institutes of Health at $31.7 billion, the level of the President's request and a $1.0 billion increase over FY 2011. The bill does not mention the proposed new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), but it does contain provisions on the number of grants that NIH must fund (a minimum of 9,150 across the entire NIH) and the balance between extramural and intramural support (a 90-10 split).
The federal government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) (HR2608) that funds the federal government through November 18. The bill cuts most discretionary accounts by 1.5 percent, resulting in a total discretionary spending level of $1.042 trillion, $1 billion less than what had been agreed upon in The Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L.112-25).
The continuing resolution expires just five days before recommendations are due from The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, setting up a potentially interesting interplay between congressional appropriators and the "Super Committee," along with the strong possibility of another short-term extension.
-- Joanne Carney
With its November 23 deadline approaching, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (generally known as the "Super Committee") has been conducting hearings as it develops its plans for reducing the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years. In late October it received testimony from Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, on the estimated cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending over ten years that would result from a sequestration. According to Elmendorf, if automatic procedures to cut spending were triggered by a sequestration, funding for defense would decrease a total of $110 billion (or 16 percent), and non-defense spending would fall $99 billion (or 15 percent).
Recommendations from congressional committees to the Super Committee were due October 14. A letter submitted by the Majority Members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee includes 15 pages of recommendations, which "prioritize R&D programs that protect our national security and leadership, allow private investors and the marketplace to thrive without undue Federal influence, and have the most potential for sustained long-term growth." The committee cited clean energy research, ARPA-E, and the Biological and Environmental Research Program at DOE as areas that could be cut, and cited its opposition to climate change education and technology programs at NSF and a proposed National Climate Service at NOAA. Democrats from 16 House Committees submitted their own plans, independent of the majority leadership, stressing a balance between job creation and deficit reduction.
Separately, Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and David Price (D-NC) issued a Dear Colleague letter urging support for basic scientific research, which they sent to the Joint Committee while also urging their House colleagues to sign on to the letter. The letter states, "Our investments in education, research and development—including funding for basic science and biomedical research at universities and federal labs and wise incentives for private sector research—have put our economy on the cutting edge of the world's most advanced industries. These investments are a powerful way to spur job growth and are a must for a country that seeks to be competitive in the 21st Century economy."
-- Joanne Carney and Emily Lamb
A rapidly growing number of shortages of prescription drugs has critically affected patients, and government officials are taking notice. On September 23, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee held a hearing on this issue with eight witnesses, including Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh. In 2010, Koh said, there were 178 drug shortages—nearly triple the number from just five years prior—and more still in 2011. The drugs affected included cancer drugs, anesthetics, and critical care medications; 93 percent were deemed medically necessary. Contributing to the problem, he said, are "industry consolidation, shortages of underlying raw materials, changes to inventory and distribution practices, difficulty in producing a given drug, quality and manufacturing problems, production delays, discontinuations for business reasons, and unanticipated increased demand." He noted that the shortage of cancer drugs in particular has affected thousands of patients in NIH clinical trials, which have been forced to end early or abruptly curtail patient enrollment.
FDA collaborated with drug companies to prevent 38 shortages in 2010 and 99 thus far in 2011. It held a public meeting and a webinar on drug shortages in September. Then, on October 31, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing FDA to expand its reporting of potential drug shortages and to further expedite reviews that could help alleviate the shortages. FDA will also work with the Department of Justice to examine whether shortages have led to illegal price gouging or stockpiling of medications, and the Administration has increased staffing to the agency's Drug Shortages Program.
-- Erin Heath
Quick status reports to keep you up to date on recent S&T bills and hearings.
On October 20th the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing to "Examine Shale Gas Production and Water Resources in the Eastern United States." The hearing focused on shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Witnesses stressed the evolving nature of regulation surrounding water used in fracking, which is currently done on a state-by-state basis. Cynthia Dougherty from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drew attention to the EPA's announcement that it is working on setting technology-based water quality standards for shale gas wastewater. Similarly, Lori Wrotenbery of the Oil and Gas Conservation Division at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission highlighted several voluntary information sharing initiatives that have been successful. Finally, David Russ of the United States Geological Service pointed out the importance of extensive and accurate monitoring of water quality before, during and after fracking in order to inform decision-making.
On October 13th, the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing on the future of coal R&D funding as the U.S. moves toward a clean, independent energy future. David Foerter, a representative from the pollution control industry, assured the committee that no new R&D will be required for the coal industry to comply with EPA emissions standards. Scott Klara, deputy lab director of the DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, said that the DOE is prioritizing clean coal and carbon capture and sequestration (CSS) technologies, and is "well positioned to help overcome the technical challenges." All of the witnesses agreed that the first priority for coal R&D should be CSS technology and cited either water management or energy efficiency improvements as their second priority.
On October 12th the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education held a hearing to discuss a National Academies report on successful K-12 STEM education. Dr. Suzanne Wilson discussed the need for rigorous and consistent teacher training and professional development programs while Mark Hefferon emphasized the importance of school culture. The panelists agreed on the need for continued research on STEM education and the importance of preparing students to enter STEM programs after graduating from high school. The Committee held a second hearing on STEM education focused on encouraging STEM industry professionals to consider teaching as a second career on November 3. Witnesses point out the unique perspectives industry professionals can offer students while also noting that effective teaching requires more than knowledge of the subject matter.
On November 2 the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved several bills, including the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2011 (S. 1701), which calls for a national strategy and implementation plan to address harmful algal blooms and hypoxia (inadequate oxygen supply to cells and tissues). Similar legislation (H.R.2484) was approved by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in July.
The House Judiciary Committee favorably reported the REINS Act—Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act—of 2011, by a vote of 22 to 14 on October 25. The REINS Act (H.R. 10) would require major rules—those with an impact of $100 million dollars or more—to be approved by both houses of Congress within 70 legislative days. At earlier hearings on the legislation, witnesses testified that the legislation would effectively stop all rulemaking from going forward.
The House passed by voice vote legislation (H.R. 2594) that would prohibit U.S. airlines from complying with a European Union climate change law that will soon subject any airplane flights into or out of an EU airport to the European cap-and-trade restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. The EU's high court is examining the legality of the proposal, which is also opposed by other nations. The Senate is not likely to take up the measure.
Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee announced new Ranking Members for three subcommittees under the committee's jurisdiction. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation; Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight; and Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.
On October 13th the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing on the "Endangered Species Act (ESA): Reviewing the Nexus of Science and Policy." Chairman Paul Broun's (R-GA) opening statement called the Endangered Species Act (ESA) an "abject failure" because only 1 percent of species listed had recovered. Witnesses discussed the way that science was used in listing decisions made by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Jonathan Alder, professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, tried to delineate the various roles of science and policy, testifying: "Whether a given species is at risk of extinction may be a scientific question, but what to do about it is not."
On November 4 OSTP issued two separate Requests for Information (RFI) seeking recommendations for (1) ensuring "broad public access to the peer-reviewed scholarly publications," and (2) ensuring "long-term stewardship and encouraging broad public access to unclassified digital data" that results from federally funded research. Comments regarding public access to scholarly publications are due January 2, 2012; comments on access to digital data are due January 12, 2012.
On October 3 both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued proposed rules in the Federal Register regarding revisions to the select agents and toxins control list. Both the CDC and APHIS revisions (CDC's found here; APHIS's found here) reflect recommendations from the Federal Experts Security Advisory Panel (FESAP) to establish a new tiered system for select agents that pose a greater national security risk, as well as recommendations to remove items that pose minimal risk from the list. Public comments are due December 2.
On September 26 the National Institutes of Health released a revised policy on managing conflicts of interest (COI) in the initial peer review of NIH grant and cooperative agreement applications. The revised policy is particularly intended "to facilitate reviews that involve multi-site or multi-component projects, consortia, networks, aggregate data sets, and/or multi-authored publications." The policy covers both federal employee and non-federal members of scientific review groups (including mail reviewers). Non-federal members, in particular, may not participate in the review of an application if they have "a real COI or an appearance of a COI with [the] application." Bases for COI can include "employment, financial benefit, personal relationships, professional relationships, or other interests." The new policy applies to all applications submitted for the September 25, 2011 deadline and thereafter.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a Request for Information for input on developing the National Bioeconomy Blueprint. The request seeks recommendations to meet national challenges through biological research innovation. Comments will be accepted until December 6.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a blueprint for biomedical innovation featuring seven steps: rebuilding small business outreach services; building infrastructure to drive and support personalized medicine; creating a rapid drug development pathway for targeted therapies; harnessing the potential of data mining and information sharing; improving the medical device review process; training new innovators; and streamlining FDA regulations. "Our innovation blueprint highlights some of the initiatives FDA will be implementing to ensure that [new scientific] opportunities are translated into safe and effective treatments that can help keep both American patients and American industry healthy and strong," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
The President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has released an interim report entitled "Taking Action, Building Confidence." The report groups its recommendations into five initiatives: (1) investing in infrastructure and energy development; (2) encouraging entrepreneurship and accelerating the number and scale of young, small businesses and high-growth firms; (3) fostering within-U.S. investment, both from foreign firms and from multinational corporations headquartered in the U.S.; (4) simplifying regulatory review and streamlining project approvals; and (5) ensuring U.S. talent to fill existing job openings as well as to boost future job creation. The Council plans to address the major factors underpinning national competitiveness in its year-end report.
On October 28 the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a report on the federal government's efforts to improve its understanding of and capacity to respond to climate-related risks, titled Federal Actions for a Climate Resilient Nation: Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Since the previous progress report had identified freshwater resources as a priority, the CEQ also released the final National Action Plan: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate. A synthesis report will be released in 2013.
- The Federal Budget: Issues for FY2011, FY2012, and Beyond (R41685)
- Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments (RL33548)
- U.S. Wind Turbine Manufacturing: Federal Support for an Emerging Industry (R42023)
- Managing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Policy Implications of Expanding Global Access to Nuclear Power (RL34234)
- Energy and Water Development: FY2012 Appropriations (R41908)
- Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations (R41842)
- Social Media and Disasters: Current Uses, Future Options, and Policy Considerations (R41987)
- Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 112th Congress (R41642)
- Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain R41347
- Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer (RL34511)
- Desalination: Technologies, Use, and Congressional Issues (R40477)
- Excess Uranium Inventories: Clarifying DOE's Disposition Options Could Help Avoid Further Legal Violations (GAO-11-846)
- Energy Star: Providing Opportunities for Additional Review of EPA's Decisions Could Strengthen the Program (GAO-11-888)
- Climate Monitoring: NOAA Can Improve Management of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (GAO-11-800)
- Environmental Protection Agency: Management Challenges and Budget Observations (GAO-12-149T)
- Yucca Mountain: Information on Alternative Uses of the Site and Related Challenges (GAO-11-847)
- Department of Defense: Use of Neurocognitive Assessment Tools in Post-Deployment Identification of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (GAO-12-27R)
- Environmental Justice: EPA Needs to Take Additional Actions to Help Ensure Effective Implementation (GAO-12-77)
- Biosurveillance: Nonfederal Capabilities Should Be Considered in Creating a National Biosurveillance Strategy (GAO-12-55)
- Technology Assessment: Neutron Detectors: Alternatives to Using Helium-3 (GAO-11-753)
- Patients Charting the Course: Citizen Engagement in the Learning Health System: Workshop Summary ISBN-13: 978-0-309-14993-8
- Renewable Fuel Standard: Potential Economic and Environmental Effects of U.S. Biofuel Policy ISBN-13: 978-0-309-18748-0
- Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury: Evaluating the Evidence ISBN-13: 978-0-309-21818-4
- The National Weather Service Modernization and Associated Restructuring: A Retrospective Assessment ISBN-13: 978-0-309-21798-9
- Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols: Promoting Healthier Choices ISBN-13: 978-0-309-21823-8
- Long-Term Health Consequences of Exposure to Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan ISBN-13: 978-0-309-21755-2
- Toward Precicion Medicine: Building a Knowledge Network for Biomedical Research and a New Taxonomy of Disease ISBN-13: 978-0-309-22219-8
- Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care ISBN-13: 978-0-309-22202-0
- Catalyzing American Ingenuity
Energy Innovation Council
- Decision Making in a Changing Climate
World Resources Institute, UNDP, UNEP, and the World Bank
- International Benchmarking of Countries' Policies and Programs Supporting SME Manufacturers
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
- Task Force on Climate Remediation Research
Bipartisan Policy Center
- New Alternative Compliance Mechanisms for a Clean Energy Standard
Resources for the Future
Human Subjects Research
On October 26, AAAS commented on an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to human subjects research protections.
Traumatic Brain Injury
On October 6, AAAS held a congressional briefing to discuss the future of TBI research and its impact on health and the economy.
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Science & Society: Global Challenges Discussion Series
Please join us for the fourth and last event in a series of evening discussions sponsored by AAAS, the American Chemical Society and the Georgetown University Program on Science in the Public Interest.
Nanotechnology in the 2010s: The Teen Years
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
AAAS Auditorium at 1200 New York Avenue. A reception will start at 5:00 p.m.
No PowerPoint. No notes. Just candid conversations with leading scientists, economists, and politicians hosted by award-winning NPR reporters. Experts: Pedro Alvarez, George R. Brown Professor of Engineering and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University; Omid Farokhzad, Associate Professor, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School; Debra Kaiser, Supervisory Materials Research Engineer and Division Chief–Ceramics, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Host: David Kestenbaum
After a meal, a Burmese python's heart can almost double its normal size. This expansion is achieved through a process called hypertrophy, in which the individual cells expand. As the python begins to fast again, the heart shrinks back to its original size over the course of about two weeks. Researchers have isolated a combination of three fatty acids in python plasma that, when injected into mice, induce a similar hypertrophy, offering an important link between reptilian and mammalian heart function. Understanding the rapid expansion and contraction of the python's heart size offers important implications for human heart health because the hypertrophy exhibited by the Burmese pythons is similar to that caused by frequent exercise in humans and associated with cardiovascular health.
Riquelme CA, et al., "Fatty Acids Identified in the Burmese Python Promote Beneficial Cardiac Growth," Science, 28 October 2011, Vol. 334, (6055) pp. 528-531.