The President's proposed budget for FY 2011 will be released
on February 1. The Office of Science and Technology Policy will hold a
briefing on R&D in the overall budget, and the major R&D
agencies will hold their own budget briefings that day and in the days
to follow. Get up-to-the-minute updates on the FY 2011 R&D budget
proposals by following the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
Twitter feed at @AAAS_RDBudget.
For details on the appropriations
process as well as updated FY 2010
R&D estimates based on final
Congressional action, see the AAAS
R&D Budget and Policy Program
House S&T Committee
Announces Agenda. The House Science and Technology Committee
held a press briefing January 19 on its
goals for 2010. They include reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act
as well as passing authorization bills for NASA, the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Homeland
Security's Science and Technology Directorate. Other foci will include
energy efficiency, commercial uses of space, and geo-engineering.
Leadership of Senate Energy and
Water Appropriations Subcommittee to Change in 2011. The
retirement of Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), currently the chair of the
Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, at the end of 2010
will lead to changes in the appropriations subcommittee chairmanships.
Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), who now serves as the chair of the
Transportation and HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, and Maria
Cantwell (D-WA) are both considered leading contenders for the chair of
Energy and Water.
Mammograms Featured in Health
Care Bill. The final health care reform bill in Congress is
likely to require coverage for more mammograms
than were recommended in controversial federal guidelines released in
November. The guidelines did not recommend routine mammograms until age
50, but some doctors and patient advocates have been calling for
earlier and frequent screenings.
Science and Engineering
Indicators 2010 Released. The National Science Board
released its Science and Engineering
Indicators (SEI) 2010 report on January 15 in Washington, DC.
The NSB has been issuing the reports, which are required by statute,
biennially in even-numbered years since 1972. SEI serves as the authoritative
U.S. source on science and engineering statistics, including data on
workforce, education, public attitudes on science and engineering, and
R&D funding, both nationally and internationally. Trends published
in the 2010 volume indicate that although the U.S. continues to be the
world leader in science and engineering, other countries, especially
those in East Asia, are dramatically increasing their investments in
science and engineering and are closing the gap. The full report and a
printed and interactive digest
are available online. A one-page summary of the release event is
available at the AAAS R&D
Budget and Policy Program Website. A companion document detailing
policy recommendations based on SEI
2010 will be released at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego,
scheduled for February 18-22.
NIH Posts Stimulus-Funded
Research Topics. NIH has posted a series of ARRA
Investment Reports that seek to explain in plain language how
stimulus money is addressing certain diseases and areas of research.
FDA Shifts Stance on BPA.
The Food and Drug Administration announced
that it has "some concern about the potential effects of
BPA"--bisphenol-A, a chemical found in plastic bottles and food
packaging--"on the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses,
infants and children." This is a reversal of the FDA position during
the Bush Administration. The agency now plans further study of the
compound's effects on humans and animals. In other news, the FDA has
launched the first phase of its transparency
initiative with a series of videos and other online features.
Anti-Evolution Bills are Back.
The first anti-evolution bills of 2010 have emerged in the Mississippi
and Missouri state legislatures. The Mississippi
bill would require biology teachers to present materials by
"protagonists and antagonists" of evolution. The Missouri
bill contains anti-evolution language commonly found historically
in other state initiatives, encouraging teachers and students to
analyze the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of
evolution. In related news, Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, has
received the National Academy of Sciences' Public
Welfare Medal for "championing the teaching of evolution in the
United States and for providing leadership to the [NCSE]."
Insurance Trade Group Questions
Climate Science. Many insurance companies have been at the
forefront of efforts to mitigate climate change, with state regulators
(specifically, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners)
adopting a white paper in 2008 which stated that "global warming is
occurring," However, one major insurance trade group is now questioning
the science of climate change, citing the e-mails hacked from the UK's
University of East Anglia. In a letter
regarding a new regulation that requires large insurance companies to
answer a series of questions about their efforts to mitigate climate
hazards, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies Vice
President Robert Detlefsen wrote: "[B]ecause serious questions have
been raised about the integrity of contemporary climate science, NAMIC
believes it would be exceedingly risky for any insurance company to
make important business decisions based on an uncritical acceptance of
the dominant scientific paradigm on climate change."
Scholarly Publishing Roundtable
Releases Report. On January 13 the Scholarly Publishing
Roundtable -- a group comprised of for-profit and non-profit
librarians, and university provosts -- released a report
outlining its recommendations for public access to results of research
supported by federal funds. While the report recommends that research
results should be "more broadly accessible," it does not take a
position on when those
results should be made available. The report recommends that the Office
of Science and Technology Policy create a public access advisory
committee to assist the Administration in developing public access
policies. The roundtable was organized at the behest of the House
Science and Technology Committee, and Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN)
issued a press
release on the date of the report's release, stating that the
"recommendations strike a good balance by allowing public access to the
results of research paid for with federal funds, while preserving the
high quality and editorial integrity of scholarly publishing…."
Although the goal of the roundtable was to develop a report that
reflected a consensus view of the individuals who participated,
representatives from the Public Library of Science and Elsevier
declined to sign on to the report and issued
separate statements explaining their decisions.
WHO Dismisses H1N1 Criticism.
The World Health Organization has dismissed
the growing criticism in Europe that the threat of the H1N1 virus was
exaggerated. One official called such claims "wrong and irresponsible."
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People in the News.
Nirenberg, the first federal government scientist to win a Nobel
Prize in physiology or medicine, died this past weekend at the age of
82. He received the award in 1968 for his work on how RNA directs amino
acids to combine to make proteins.
Archived issues of AAAS Policy Alert
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Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Joanne Carney, Patrick Clemins,
Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Gretchen Seiler, Al Teich, Vaughan Turekian,
Kasey White, Ric Weibl
NOTE: The AAAS Policy Alert is a newsletter provided to AAAS Members to
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