AAAS Policy Alert -- May 03, 2011
R&D in the FY 2011 Full-Year Continuing Resolution. The AAAS Report XXXVI: Research and Development FY 2012 is now available on the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website along with a summary table of estimates of R&D in the FY 2011 full-year continuing resolution. Total R&D investment in FY 2011 is estimated at $144.4 billion, a 3.5 percent ($5.2 billion) cut from FY 2010. However, $4.7 billion of that cut comes from the Department of Defense appropriations bill that was included in the year-long continuing resolution. Non-defense R&D received cuts of just 0.9 percent with increases at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (+$605 million to $9.9 billion) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (+$507 million to $543 million), b alancing out the largest decreases at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (-$501 million to $2.1 billion), the Department of Energy's energy programs (-$357 million to $2.1 billion), the National Institutes of Health (-$329 million to $30.2 billion), and the Department of Homeland Security (-$175 million to $712 million). In other news, NIH has issued its fiscal policy for FY 2011. Under the policy, continuation grants for all Institutes and Centers, with the exception of the National Cancer Institute, will be reduced by 1 percent below the FY 2010 award level. NCI will reduce its continuing grants by 3 percent.
Other Congressional News
Votes Expected on Bills to Expand Offshore Drilling. The House is expected to vote this week and next on several bills to expand offshore oil and gas drilling. The "Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act" (HR 1229) would set timelines for considering drilling permits; the "Restarting American Offshore Leasing Act Now" (HR 1230) requires the Administration to conduct offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia; and the "Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act" (HR 1231) calls for additional offshore leasing. While supporters cite the role these bills would play in promoting economic development, minority members have expressed concern that implementing these bills would make drilling less safe, as they do not address any of the underlying causes of last year's spill. The bills are not expected to advance in the Senate.
Appeals Court Rules on Stem Cell Funding Injunction. The U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit has vacated a preliminary injunction imposed by a district court judge last summer that blocked federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, temporarily causing a shutdown of NIH stem cell projects. Although the court has ruled on the injunction, the judge who issued it, Royce Lamberth, still must rule on the underlying lawsuit in the case, in which two adult stem cell researchers claim that human embryonic stem cell research violates federal law regarding the destruction of embryos.
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EPA Examining How to Measure Biofuels Emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking nominations for a Scientific Advisory Board Expert Panel to provide advice on how to account for carbon emissions from stationary sources that use biomass energy. In January, EPA decided to delay permitting rules for these sources by three years. A key question will be how to track carbon released from land-use changes associated with plant cultivation.
Administration Stresses Support for Clean Water. On April 27, the Obama Administration released a national Clean Water Framework that "affirms its commitment to protecting the health of America's waters." That same day, the EPA issued draft guidance for determining which bodies of water are protected by the Clean Water Act. There is a 60-day public comment period for the guidance.
NIH Forms New Group on Workforce. The National Institutes of Health has established a working group to examine the future of the biomedical research workforce. The group will recommend actions to the Advisory Committee to the Director "to ensure a diverse and sustainable biomedical and behavioral research workforce." The group plans to develop a model to "help inform decisions about how to train the optimal number of people for the appropriate types of positions that will advance science and promote health."
New Program for Innovation Clusters Announced. The Economic Development Administration has announced the creation of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a program funded by the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, and the Small Business Administration at $33 million (and supported by 16 other agencies through technical assistance). Funding will be competitively awarded to industry clusters in "urban and rural regions across the nation and across all sectors" to provide support for a range of objectives including commercialization, development of a skilled workforce, sustainable economic development and global competitiveness.
NBSB Issues New Report. Last week, the National Biodefense Science Board issued recommendations in A Call to Action: Include Scientific Investigations as an Integral Component of Disaster Planning and Response. The report stresses that "each disaster constitutes a critical opportunity in what may be a brief window of time to conduct scientific research that could lead to improved assistance to those affected by the event, and improve capabilities for responding to future disasters." It recommends the creation of a new Interdepartmental Center within the Department of Health and Human Services that would, among other things, "establish funding mechanisms to support a rapid and robust scientific response to disasters."
FDA-NIH Joint Council to Hold Public Meeting. The FDA and NIH Joint Leadership Council on regulatory science will hold its first public meeting at the FDA offices in Silver Spring, MD, on June 2, 2011 (persons interested in attending must register by May 26). The two agencies are seeking suggestions for how they can "more effectively collaborate to advance the translation of biomedical research discoveries into approved diagnostics and therapies as well as promote science to enhance the evaluation tools used for regulatory review."
ElsewhereFirst in Case Study Series on Science in Muslim-Majority Countries Released.
of Malaysia's Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) strategy was released on March 28 by the Atlas of Islamic-World Science and Innovation, an international consortium that includes the British Council, Nature
, and the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). This report -- which is the first in a series of Muslim-majority country case studies -- found that, although Malaysia has a clear STI plan and a strong international leadership record (as evidenced by its rubber and palm oil industries), implementing these initiatives are hampered by "excessive bureaucracy," inadequate monitoring, and "talent shortfalls" for highly skilled jobs.Large Cancer Study Under Fire.
A large study of cancer patients led by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers that was heavily criticized in 2008 for its scientific claims about the use of CT scans to prevent lung cancer deaths and for its sponsorship by a cigarette maker has come under fire again, this time because the informed consent forms for 90 percent of the more than 50,000 patients could not be found. The finding, first revealed in a 2008 confidential report, was recently noted
in the New York Times.
That same report also recommended that the clinical trial be halted, but it continues, although no longer with the participation of Weill Cornell.
, a distinguished plant scientist who joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture in October 2009 as first director of the new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is resigning his post effective May 20. Beachy, former director of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, said he is leaving to spend more time with his family, who remained in St. Louis. He will join Washington University, St. Louis as a professor of biology.
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Editor: Erin Heath
Contributors: Phillip Chalker, Patrick Clemins, Mark Frankel, Earl Lane, Anne Poduska, Gretchen Seiler, Al Teich, Kasey White
NOTE: The AAAS Policy Alert is a newsletter provided to AAAS Members to inform them of developments in science and technology policy that may be of interest. Information in the Policy Alert is gathered from published news reports, unpublished documents, and personal communications. Although the information contained in this newsletter is regarded as reliable, it is provided only for the convenience and private use of our members. Comments and suggestions regarding the Policy Alert are welcome. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.