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The Conscience Clause: Keeping the Independent Scientist Extant

By | October 6, 2003

The Conscience Clause: Keeping the Independent Scientist Extant By Henri-Philippe Sambuc and Frédéric Piguet The few scientists who have had the courage to oppose their employers' silence regarding the harmful effects of products related, for instance, to food, public health, or the environment, have generally seen their lives destroyed. Defamation campaigns, threats, legal actions, and various pressures have made their careers, family lives, and health miserable. Science is a com

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©John Horner According to results released last month of a widely administered ACT college entrance exam, only 26% of the graduating US high school seniors who took the test this year are adequately prepared for college biology. In other words, about one in four young adults are likely to muster a grade of C or higher in their freshman biology courses. It is further evidence that the United States is failing at a critical task. No easy explanation or quick remedy exists for this reality

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Improving the Postdoctoral Experience Ned Shaw Editor's note: Responding to readers' concerns about treatment of postdoctoral fellows in US academic life science labs, The Scientist invited the National Postdoctoral Association to participate in an online discussion with science policy leaders. Attendees included Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation; economist Richard Freeman, Harvard University; Michael Gottesman, deputy director for Intramural Research, National Insti

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Citation Geography: It's About Location

By | August 25, 2003

It is well known that the distribution of citation counts is highly skewed, with a few scientists receiving many citations but with most receiving very few. What is less well known is that when these counts are aggregated by institution, and then by place, these distributions become even more extreme, with most citations being associated with individuals in a small number of institutions in an even smaller number of places and countries. To demonstrate this geographical concentration, a sour

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Scientists, It's Time to Speak Up

By | July 28, 2003

Ned Shaw Congress and the Bush administration--the same lawmakers who say that they want to spur healthier and longer lives for all Americans and economic growth through the harvest of our medical and health research enterprises--have proposed a historically low FY04 budget increase for the National Institutes of Health. As returns on recent research investments emerge, momentum could be slowed or dismantled by curtailed support for the NIH budget. Those of us who understand the central role t

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Autotherapeutics: Mind Over Matter

By | July 14, 2003

Ned Shaw If the 20th century will be remembered for outer space exploration and the human genome, the 21st century, I believe, will be known as the "Brain Century." Although voluminous literature has appeared about the brain and its attribute, the infinite mind, our knowledge is still infinitesimal. From the knowledge to date and forthcoming, I foresee that we will, within this century, begin to learn how our frontal cortex, through focused thought, can treat physiological disorders. This woul

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Back in the Fold with UNESCO

By | June 30, 2003

Ned Shaw The Bush Administration's decision to rejoin the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) offers the US science and engineering community a chance to expand its opportunities for international cooperation and technical assistance, which would support peace, world dialogue, and progress towards sustainable development. The president's decision, supported by the secretary of state, is very welcome indeed, and Congress should be encouraged to provide the

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Declare Your Independence

By | June 16, 2003

Ned Shaw That guy is 20 years ahead of his time. He could be a flake or a genius, who knows?" Spoken by a neuroscientist about his colleague at an annual convention, these words set me thinking. What does he mean? Can anyone be 20 years ahead of time? The better explanation must be that academic science may live 20 years in the past. This explanation rings true when we realize the pace of contemporary science: It is incremental, consensual, and expensive. Progress is slow in the mainstream. A

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Getting in Tune With the Enemy--Microbes

By | June 2, 2003

Ned Shaw After a lapse of some decades, germs and disease have again been very much on our minds, largely because of the dreadful effect of AIDS throughout the world. We also have had a reawakened consciousness that globally prevalent diseases like tuberculosis and malaria remain historical scourges. Now the daily news tells us of new outbreaks such as severe acute pulmonary syndrome, or SARS, spreading from China, with an outcome that cannot be confidently predicted at this time. Throughout

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D and the Public Good

By | May 19, 2003

Ned Shaw Columnist George Will has observed that when the Titanic steamed into that iceberg, the disaster was not democratic: 56% of women sailing in third class died, while only four of 143 women in first class perished. You don't need to ask which class was traveling near or below the waterline. When it comes to healthcare research, development and delivery--or, to be more precise, the lack thereof--those closest to the "waterline" are less-developed countries. Health-related R&D has b

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