Congress returns this week from a two-week recess. Appropriations hearings of note this week include coverage of the proposed FY 2011 budgets for (1) the Department of Education, before the Senate Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee (Wednesday, April 14); and (2) the Department of Veterans Affairs, before the Senate Military Construction/VA Appropriations Subcommittee (Thursday, April 15).
For up-to-date news on the FY 2011 budget, visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website
. R&D budget information and a wide array of other S&T policy issues will receive coverage at the 35th annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
, May 13-14.
House Subcommittee to Mark Up America COMPETES Act. On April 14 the House Science and Technology Committee's Subcommittee for Research and Science Education will mark up the National Science Foundation (NSF) section of the America COMPETES Act reauthorization bill (see the committee print version of the draft NSF section).
AAAS's Expert Labs Solicits Views on S&T Priorities for White House "Grand Challenges." In support of the "grand challenges of the 21st century" referred to in President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation, the White House, using AAAS’s new Expert Labs program as one vehicle, is calling upon "the collective wisdom of scientists everywhere in deciding which scientific and technological challenges should be the focus of policy initiatives in the coming year." The scientific community at large, and AAAS members as a specific group, are asked to contribute their views on which S&T issues should be prioritized. NOTE: Responses are requested by April 15.
White House Fills Out Bioethics Commission. The White House last week announced the remaining ten members of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The Chair, Amy Gutmann, and Vice-Chair, James Wagner, had been announced earlier. The group includes several scholars and physicians as well as a Franciscan friar and a biomedical research advocate.
PCAST Forum on Advanced Manufacturing. Last week the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) launched a website seeking public comments on a series of questions on the future of advanced manufacturing. The website includes a list of ten questions related to topics such as public-private consortia and whether the U.S. should create a national S&T-based manufacturing strategy. In addition to submitting ideas, the public is encouraged to vote on the ideas that they believe are best for the nation. Public comments and ideas are due by April 20.
White House Releases Open Government Plans. On April 7 the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released an update on its Open Government initiatives. The document outlines activities that OSTP is undertaking to support the Open Government goals of transparency, participation, and collaboration. In addition to the OSTP document, each federal agency, including NSF, is releasing its own Open Government Plan.
EPA Creates Database of Studies Underlying Regulations. As part of the Administration's Open Government directive, the Environmental Protection Agency has launched the Health and Environmental Research On-line (HERO) database that provides access to more than 300,000 citations of scientific studies used by EPA in making key regulatory decisions.
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NIH Lets Stem Cell Bank Contract Expire. The National Institutes of Health has allowed its contract with the National Stem Cell Bank to expire. The bank, established in 2005, was designed to distribute Bush-approved stem lines to labs. The lines continue to be available through the Wisconsin International Stem Cell Bank, but a lack of government subsidies has doubled their price.
IG Says FDA Food Inspections Down. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a report saying that Food and Drug Administration inspections of food facilities and related enforcement are down due to underfunding and understaffing at the agency. The report may lend momentum to a Senate food safety bill.
FDA to Hold Meeting on Consumer Representatives to Advisory Committees. The FDA will convene a public meeting in Rockville, MD on April 30, to inform the public on how to participate in the nomination and selection process for members representing consumer interests on FDA advisory committees. The meeting will also provide information on the structure and function of advisory committees seeking consumer representatives, and provide updates on current committee vacancies. Under the previous Administration, FDA advisory committees came under criticism on several occasions for an alleged lack of openness in the appointment of members as well as for some members' possible industry bias or lack of appropriate qualifications.
Blood Donation Rules to be Revisited: The Advocate, a newspaper and web site that reports on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues, reports that following an appeal from Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and 18 other senators, the FDA is to review restrictions on blood donations by gay men. The FDA last reconsidered the policy in 2006 when it recommended no change in a lifetime ban for men who have had sex with other men since 1977. The FDA Blood Products Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet July 26-27, but no public agenda has been posted.
Recent Growth of Science and Engineering Employment. According to a new study by NSF, employment in science and engineering occupations grew 13.7% from May 2004 to May 2008. This compares with a 5.5% increase in all occupations during the same period. These growth rates are consistent with long-term trends found in U.S. Census data.
People in the News. H. Guyford Stever, physicist, university president, and advisor to two Presidents, died April 9 in Gaithersburg, MD, at age 93. Stever became president of the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1965 and was instrumental in the merger of that institution with the Mellon Institute of Research to form Carnegie Mellon University in 1967. President Nixon nominated him to be director of the National Science Foundation in February 1972, and he served in that capacity, doubling as science advisor to President Ford, until he became the first director of OSTP in 1976.
Evangelical Scholar Loses Job for Endorsing Evolution. Bruce Waltke, a respected professor and Old Testament expert, was reportedly dismissed from his position at the Reformed Theological Seminary after he was quoted on a BioLogos Foundation video endorsing the scientific theory of evolution. Waltke later issued a joint statement with the head of BioLogos in which he stood by his words, but also said he wished he could have further commented on his view that it is possible to embrace both evolution and Scripture.
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Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Kavita Berger, Joanne Carney, Patrick Clemins, Ed Derrick, Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Shirley Malcom, Gretchen Seiler, Al Teich, Kasey White, Ric Weibl, Brad Wible
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