Coffers at the National Institutes of Health are officially $1 billion lighter after awarding recovery grants for construction, renovation, and repair projects at research institutions across the country, the agency linkurl:announced;http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/05/20100514a.html Friday (14th May). The NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) has doled out 146 such grants to facilities in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. One of the biggest winners was the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, which got a $14.3 million award to build a 15,000 square-foot (1,400 square-meter) data center to support human genome research. "This unprecedented Recovery Act investment in research facility construction will not only give our world-class scientists the modern facilities they need for impact research, it will also help create and maintain jobs in varied business sectors and in all regions of our country," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a linkurl:statement.;http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/05/20100514a.html
House Republicans stymied the linkurl:America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010,;http://science.house.gov/legislation/leg_highlights_detail.aspx?NewsID=1938 which would continue support for a 2007 law that funneled dollars into federal science agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The reauthorization act was being considered in the House's Science and Technology Committee when GOP members submitted a motion that cut funding for the program, defunded a program that investigates alternative energy technologies. The motion also included language that prohibited federal employees who viewed pornography at work from receiving COMPETES Act funds. Committee chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) pulled the reauthorization act from consideration, saying in a linkurl:statement,;http://science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=2837 "I'm disappointed that politics trumped good policy. The Minority was willing to trade American jobs and our nation's economic competitiveness for the chance to run a good political ad." EPA tests Big Pharma's rejects
The US Environmental Protection Agency is expanding its linkurl:ToxCast;http://www.epa.gov/ncct/toxcast/ screening program, which seeks to find in vitro assays that can predict the toxicity of chemical compounds more quickly than the conventional tests used in humans and animals. The EPA launched ToxCast in 2007, and in its first stage the agency tested approximately 300 known toxins (mostly pesticides), comparing the results of experimental in vitro assays with in vivo toxicity studies. Last week, the EPA announced that it would be testing 100 drugs, provided by Merck, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi-Aventis, that failed in clinical trials because they were found to be too toxic. EPA researchers will quickly screen the drugs and compare their results to clinical trial data provided by the pharmaceutical giants. Kirschstein's NIH tribute
Today (17th May) the National Institutes of Health will host a day of events to honor the life and accomplishments of linkurl:Ruth Kirschstein,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56047/ the first female director of an NIH institute. Kirschstein, who helmed the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences and served as acting NIH director twice, died last October. NIH staff will commemorate Kirschstein, and extramural researchers who have won Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards will present their work in lectures and poster sessions -- on stem cells, cancer metastasis, and neuroscience -- throughout the day.
Last week, the US Department of Agriculture OKed an expansive field trial of genetically modified trees, the closest a GM forest tree has ever gotten to approved commercial growth, the linkurl:__New York Times__;http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/business/energy-environment/13tree.html?src=busln reported. Researchers from biotech company ArborGen, which is owned by three big forest products companies, will plant more than 200,000 eucalyptus trees with a gene modification to help them withstand periodic freezes on 300 acres (120 hectares) at 28 sites stretching from Florida to Texas. Environmental groups cried foul and warned that the tests could lead to the engineered trees becoming invasive. ArborGen is already in the process of applying for commercial approval for the trees, which it hopes to use as a source of pulp and paper. World AIDS vaccine day
Tomorrow (18th May) is the 13th annual World AIDS Vaccine Day. Researchers and HIV/AIDS activists will look back on last September's announcement of encouraging results in the linkurl:Thai AIDS vaccine trial,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55995/ in which patients were protected from HIV with 30 percent efficacy, and the discovery of linkurl:new antibodies;http://www.iavi.org/news-center/Pages/PressRelease.aspx?pubID=3157 that may have action against HIV.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Ruth Kirschstein dies;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56047/
[8th October 2009]*linkurl:NIH recovery grants top $5 billion;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56027/
[30th September 2009]*linkurl:HIV vax testers react to Thai trial;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55995/
[24th September 2009]