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Human Genome Bill Sponsor Pulls Back, Shifts Tactics

By | August 10, 1987

WASHINGTON—One of the most frequent complaints about Congress is how long it takes to get something done. Last month Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) found out that trying to move too fast may be an even bigger problem. On July 10 Domenici introduced a bill (S. 1480) to create a federal advisory board and governmentuniversity-industry consortium to map and sequence the human genome. The bill, which would have set up cooperative research efforts on semiconductors and superconducting materials

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Irish Depend on Framework Projects

By | August 10, 1987

DUBLIN—Approval of the EEC’s Framework program is important news for Irish scientists, whose country relies heavily on the joint projects to augment the low level of support from their own government. “Basically, it means that people like me are working here rather than abroad,” said Edel Stephens, technical manager for software development at a small firm doing EEC-backed work. With support at levels far below the rest of the EEC (Ireland spends 0.8 percent of its

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Issues Clear in the U.K. Genentech Decisions

By | August 10, 1987

Although the recent decision of the British High Court to revoke Genentech’s U.K. patent covering human tissue plasminogen activator is open to appeal, the legal issues have been clearly drawn in a lengthy judgment by Mr. Justice Whitford (THE SCIENTIST, July 27,1987, p. 4). The basic question is whether the first group to produce a particular known protein by genetic engineering methods is entitled to broad product protection that, in effect, covers all such ways of making the same pro

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WASHINGTON—More than four months after researchers in the United States and France agreed to share credit for the discovery of the AIDS virus, the international foundation, they proposed to help fight the disease has yet to emerge from the necessary paperwork. The Department of Health and Human Services recently received the signatures of 15 scientists from HHS and the Pasteur Institute that are needed to set up the foundation, said Robert Charrow, HHS deputy general counsel. A request

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Let's Get Pluto Out of the Dog House

By | August 10, 1987

Poor Pluto. Poor misunderstood, maligned, underrated, way-out-there Pluto. Poor eccentric little rubber ball. Is it a planet? A comet? An asteroid? Fifty-seven years old and no one—not even its closest friends and admirers—knows if it’s a grown-up. The debate over Pluto’s status rages on, largely in the popular press. For example, within a 2-month period, The New York Times reported that Pluto is such a runt that it may be getting kicked out of the planetary litter (

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NAS Faults Peer Review At USDA

By | August 10, 1987

WASHINGTON—Scientists and staff at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) do not understand the proper role of peer review and do notagree on its purpose, its use and the effect it has on scientific research projects, a new National Academy of Sciences report has found. The ARS, the principal in-house research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, employs more than 8,500 scientists, engineers and technicians at 127 locations. It distributes its $500 million annual budget̵

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LONDON—In an effort to build circulation in the Pacific Rim, Nature last month started printing in Japan. The press run of 3,500 copies— l0 percent of the weekly journal’s total circulation—is expected to reduce costs and speed delivery for subscribers. “Our first objective is to get more readers in Japan,” said Nature editor John Maddox. “We hope that will lead to our attracting more Japanese scientists as contributors. “What we are really up

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NSF Hiring Woes Disputed

August 10, 1987

WASHINGTON—A government report has failed to substantiate claims by the National Science Foundation that it has a problem hiring and retaining top-level science administrators. But the report has been denounced as “irrelevant” by the congressional committee that requested the information. In a four-page fact sheet, the Government Accounting Office found that the attrition rate (retirements, resignations and layoffs) of senior executives at NSF during the past three years was

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NSF to Grade Engineering Centers Soon

By | August 10, 1987

RENO, NEVADA—A comprehensive review this fall of the initial six engineering research centers funded by NSF will be the first decisive test of Director Erich Bloch’s efforts to bring about major improvements in U.S. engineering research and education. The ERC program has grown since 1985 to its current level of 13 centers and an annual budget of $30 million. The budget is expected to grow to $48 million next year and $65 million in fiscal 1989, and encompass as many as 25 centers

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Science Shortages: Real or Not?

By | August 10, 1987

Shortages and surpluses in supply and demand for scientists and engineers seem to be recurrent. A January 17, 1953 headline in the New York Times read: “Lack of Scientists is Called Critical: 2nd Report of U.S. Foundation says Russia is Outdistancing Us in Engineering Graduates.” A Wall Street Journal article quoted in the Congressional Record (Vol. 110, February 27,. 1964) questioned whether there was really a shortage of scientists and engineers (S/E) that year. After Apollo's s

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