AAAS Policy Alert -- July 11, 2012
IN THIS ISSUE
No significant federal budget activity took place last week, as Congress was away for the July 4th recess. Congress returns this week for a month of deliberations before its August
For updates on the federal research and development budget for FY 2013, please visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy website.
NIH Common Fund Announces New Programs. National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins announced two
new programs that will begin in FY2013. The Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP) will use recent genomics technology and basic research to focus on diagnosing and caring for currently undiagnosed patients.
The Common Fund's Extracellular RNA Communication Program will investigate cell-to-cell communication -- a process that is vital to basic cell function as well as the spread of many diseases. The NIH
Common Fund was created by Congress in 2006 in an effort to encourage trans-institutional collaboration. The Fund supports NIH programs that have the "potential for rapid and significant impact" and
that involve at least two NIH Institutes or Centers.
Department of Interior Announces Five-Year Offshore Leasing Plan. On June 28 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy Beaudreau
announced the plan, which will make
areas with the highest known oil and gas resources available for leasing. The Department lists 15 potential lease sales in six different areas -- the Central, Western, and Eastern portions of the Gulf
of Mexico; and the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea areas that span the Alaska Arctic, and the Cook Inlet off south-central Alaska. There are no sales planned for the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. BOEM will
release a plan for extracting resources from the Arctic regions after conducting more thorough research that will include an assessment of the availability of resources, environmental impacts of drilling,
and input from local Native American communities.
Patent and Trademark Office Opens Regional Offices. Last week Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Undersecretary for Intellectual Property David Kappos officially announced the
locations of three additional satellite offices that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) plans to open (press release found here). The
America Invents Act, which was signed into law in September, requires the USPTO to establish regional satellite offices in order to facilitate intellectual property protection and spur innovation. The
new offices will be located in Silicon Valley, CA; Dallas, TX; and Denver, CO. This announcement follows an earlier announcement of the opening of the first satellite office in Detroit, MI.
EPA Seeks Comments on Nanomaterial Case Study. The
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft document for public comment and peer review on "Nanomaterial Case Study:
A Comparison of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes and Decabromodiphenyl Ether Flame-Retardant Coatings Applied to Upholstery Textiles." The document is intended to identify what is known and still
unknown regarding potential environmental risks of multiwalled carbon nanotubes, in order to support future assessment and risk management efforts. Information on accessing the document and submitting
comments is available here. Comments are accepted until August 31.
Outlook for S&T Workforce. Last month the American Chemical Society released its annual employment survey of new graduates (all degrees) studying in fields of chemistry
(article found here). According to the survey respondents, 13% were not employed (an increase from 11% in 2010). However,
for those graduating with a Ph.D., only 38% responded that they were fully employed, while 47% were in postdoc positions and 12% were not employed. The prospects for the nation's future S&T
workforce, including data on the ACS survey and AAAS R&D budget analysis, were part of a
July 7 front-page story in The Washington Post.
Comment on the above item. Policy Alert blog entries are located on AAAS's MemberCentral. Once you
are logged in, click on "Blogs" and look for "Capitol Connection" in the drop-down list.
Two New Climate Change Polls. The Washington Post and Stanford University have released results of a new poll conducted
in mid-June indicating that nearly three in four Americans accept recent global warming, but only 30% agree that it is primarily due to human activity. Another
poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion compared responses by Americans, Canadians and Britons. A majority of Canadians agreed that climate change is a fact and caused by emissions, while two in five Americans
and Britons expressed that opinion. The poll goes into further detail about the variation among different regions in all three countries.
Canadian Scientists Protest R&D Budget Cuts, Other Science
Downgrades. Canadian scientists plan a protest march in Ottawa on July 10. The organizers (whose website can be found here)
state several reasons for the protest, including federal funding cuts to scientific research programs at Environment Canada, Fisheries
and Oceans Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, and Statistics Canada; the closure of the Experimental Lakes Area, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, and the First Nations
Statistical Institute; and the elimination of the National Science Adviser role and National Round Table on Environment and Economy. According to an
article in the Ottawa Citizen, protesters are also concerned about recent challenges to government scientists' freedom to speak, as discussed previously in ScienceInsider.
UN Council Affirms Human Rights Protections on Internet. Last week the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution supporting the right of people to freedom of expression on the Internet,
as well as the premise that this right should be protected by all states (text of resolution found here). The resolution
also affirms the important role of the Internet in fostering global development, and encourages nations to ensure that freedom of access to the Internet is incorporated into existing laws.
People in the News. David Murray has been named the new Associate Director for Disease Prevention and Director of the Office
of Disease Prevention at NIH. Murray comes from Ohio State University, where he has chaired the Division of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health.
Archived issues of AAAS Policy Alert can be found at http://www.aaas.org/spp/policyalert.
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Kelly Anderson, Joanne Carney, Ed Derrick, Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Gretchen Seiler, Sara Spizzirri
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