News in a nutshell

More counterfeit newsChinese national Sengyang Zhou was arrested in Hawaii last week on charges of importing and linkurl:selling counterfeit drugs online,; reminiscent of the story of another recently nabbed pharma faker, Kevin Xu, whose downfall is detailed in linkurl:a recent feature; in The Scientist. Image: Wikimedia commons, Tom VarcoZhou's wares included a fake version of the weight-loss pill Alli, and the fakes ar

By | March 29, 2010

More counterfeit news
Chinese national Sengyang Zhou was arrested in Hawaii last week on charges of importing and linkurl:selling counterfeit drugs online,; reminiscent of the story of another recently nabbed pharma faker, Kevin Xu, whose downfall is detailed in linkurl:a recent feature; in The Scientist.
Image: Wikimedia commons,
Tom Varco
Zhou's wares included a fake version of the weight-loss pill Alli, and the fakes are believed to cause headaches, anxiety, and other side effects, the linkurl:New York Times reported.; Undercover US investigators apparently met with Zhou in Thailand under the guise of wanting to sell his products, and then lured him to visit Hawaii, where he was arrested, linkurl:according to a CalorieLab blog.; Zhou's accused accomplice, US citizen Qing Ming Hu, was also arrested for similar charges. Meanwhile, two separate European efforts have been launched to ensure the authenticity of prescription drugs, linkurl:according to FiercePharma Manufacturing,; both relying on bar-coding and other technologies to trace each step of a drug's supply-chain journey.
Image: Camilla Svensk
Support for battered prof
Several prominent scientists, including three Nobel Laureates, have written a letter defending the actions of the recently fired research dean of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Karl Tryggvason, linkurl:Nature News reported.; Tryggvason was linkurl:dismissed earlier this month; (March 2) for exerting "undue influence" over the allocation of about $22 million in research funds to top Karolinska professors. But in linkurl:their letter,; dated just four days after the dean was let go, the grant evaluation committee denied that Tryggvason influenced their granting decisions and said that they "sincerely regret" his dismissal. Concern over biologist winning Templeton
Evolutionary geneticist and former Dominican priest Francisco J. Ayala of the University of California at Irvine received the 2010 Templeton Prize for work that affirms "life's spiritual dimension," linkurl:The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.; Ayala "has devoted more than 30 years to asserting that both science and faith are damaged when either invades the proper domain of the other," the John Templeton Foundation linkurl:said in a statement.; In response, some scientists have voiced concerns over the grouping together of science and religion, and the decision of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to host the award announcement last Thursday. "The Templeton Foundation is working in good faith. They're in favour of science but want to see a reconciliation with religion. That's not evil and crackpotty, but it's incorrect. It's a mistake," Sean Carroll from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena linkurl:told a Nature blog.; Evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins agreed, saying that the NAS "has brought ignominy on itself" by hosting the award announcement. linkurl:See our April issue; for surprising new data on how scientists feel about religion and spirituality. More funding for ERC, please
Universities UK, a higher education action group, published a paper last week that argues for more funding to be channeled to the European Research Council (ERC), including support for PhD students, linkurl:according to the Times Higher Education.; The paper, which praises the ERC's use of excellence as the sole criterion for funding, comes as about 8,000 researchers are fighting to linkurl:cut Europe's bureaucratic red tape,; demanding that the "administrative burden and the financial regulation" of European research funding be simplified.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:But For the Grace of Genes ;
[April 2010]*linkurl:Dean axed for ethics slip;
[2nd March 2010]*linkurl:News in a nutshell;
[1st March 2010]*linkurl:The Counterfeiter;
[February 2010]


Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

March 29, 2010

I'd suggest you rewrite the paragraph about the Templeton Prize.\n\nThere is a "Sean _M._ Carroll" at Caltech, who is in the division of physics, mathematics and astronomy. There is also a "Sean _B._ Carroll" at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who is a molecular/evolutionary biologist. Both might have important things to say regarding the Templeton Foundation, but S.B. Carroll might have an especially interesting perspective on this year's winner, fellow evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala.\n\nLacking the middle initial and professional specialization, one could easily make the mistake of thinking the quoted remarks were said by S.B. Carroll and either that he had moved from one institution to another or his affiliation had been misidentified.
Avatar of: Alison McCook

Alison McCook

Posts: 68

March 29, 2010

Thanks for the note re: Sean Carroll. It's our style not to include middle initials, and we can't make a change to a published story unless something is factually wrong. That said, I agree having 2 scientists with the same name is confusing. Not sure the middle initial would be the perfect solution, though, since many people won't know each man's middle initial. The affiliation is meant to distinguish them, and clicking on the Nature link shows the quoted Carroll is a "cosmologist."\n\nAlison McCook, Deputy Editor
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 85

March 29, 2010

Good grief, Profs. Dawkins and Carroll! (and my personal apologies to the "real" Sean Carroll, now that I know that it isn't you who is quoted in this article). What a kerfuffle!\n\nIsn't it bad enough that we have fundamentalist religious know-nothings who deny the validity of science and/or its relevance to the real world and real people? Now we have to endure equally fundamentalist contrarians ranting about the National Academy hosting the presentation of the prestigious Templeton award to a superb evolutionary scientist who, I daresay probably far better than most, fully understands the clear differences between science and religion and the role(s) that they each play -- as forces for both good and bad -- in human life. If anyone has managed to separate Church and science in his own life, I would guess it would be Professor Ayala.\n\nMy ex-father-in-law, a biological scientist, was a rabidly fundamentalist atheistic anti-religionist. His dislike, nay his hatred, of all who did not share his anti-religionist views was overt and unrelenting, and he tried desperately (although as far as I could tell, always unsuccessfully) to convert others to his religion of anti-religionism. I never did understand how his anti-religious views differed from fundamentalist religious views -- they all boiled down to the same thing: "I'm 100% right and you're 100% wrong." I also never fully understood how a scientist, of all people, could subscribe to such a right/wrong philosophy about things unknown, as it seems to me to be antithetical to true science.\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 182

March 29, 2010

\n\n\nNeither The Scientist nor the Evaluation Committee?s letter have succeeded in providing unequivocal information for not supporting the dismissal of the Research Dean. Furthermore, the letter simply shows that the signers (partial or full committee ?) are in agreement with the Dean?s actions. Not a big deal considering that they might have been selected by the Dean himself.\n\nDismissing a Research Dean for ?undue influence? in allocation of research resources is a rare event. It would reflect on frivolous governance if the dismissal had been improperly effected.\n\nIn the absence of unequivocal information and not being a Nobel winner, I continue to applaud the President of the Karolinska Institute for her courage and determination. \n
Avatar of: DH Stevans

DH Stevans

Posts: 18

March 29, 2010

\n Neither Sean Carroll (the cosmologist) nor Richard Dawkins are members of NAS, so why is their opinion relevant? Ayala is an NAS member, so why shouldn't he be included in the site announcing member news?\n\n In addition, Sean Carroll wrongly implies that Ayala is trying to reconcile science and religion. But Ayala states categorically that science and religion are not reconcilable "because they deal with different subjects". \n\n And finally, why should American scientists in the NAS care what Dawkins thinks? Even atheist scientists who call Dawkins "brother" characterize the attitude of his ilk as "irrational exuberance", and his tactics "militant". (See Anyone who quotes him is just fanning the flames of hatred. \n\n Carroll's and Dawkins' responses are equally predictable and irrelevant to the NAS and to American scientists.
Avatar of: daniel miller

daniel miller

Posts: 40

March 29, 2010

I am surprised that the award was made to a man who "has devoted more than 30 years to asserting that both science and faith are damaged when either invades the proper domain of the other,..." because the Templeton people have a mandate to work the other direction, that science and religion can be reconciled.\n\nBut since it was, it does seem to me that the NAS is sort of negligent in sponsoring the award, not because of why this particular one was given, but because the organization which is giving it has the mandate that it does.
Avatar of: Andreas Bikfalvi

Andreas Bikfalvi

Posts: 1

March 29, 2010

Dawkins and Carroll are absolutely right. The Tempelton prize is a disgrace to the NAS. A significant percentage of NAS members are non religious, sceptics, or atheists. This is even more true for other scientific societies such as the Royal Society that refused to host the Tempelton prize. The Tempelton foundation has a very specific agenda, to make religion fashionable to science by promoting the idea that religion is equal to science with different but equal "methods".\nThe extraordinary claims that religion made throughout history have been disproven by science\nand critical rationalism. \nVery good scientists may be religious. Their scientific qualities do sometimes not meet their\npersonal philosophy which is poor in comparaison.\nThere are examples of known scientists that meet \nthis criterion. NAS membership does not protect them from this.\n
Avatar of: Pablo de Felipe

Pablo de Felipe

Posts: 6

March 30, 2010

Relating science and faith does not mean mixing them up. The perspective of Ayala of separating the issues is not new (it is centuries old in Christian tradition, including most of modern science founders) and that only surprises people that clearly do not know anything about the history of science and faith relationships, apart form a few narrow topics such as those vocally expressed by Dawkins and others. Therefore, learning that Ayala got the Templeton Prize should not be a surprise. And it should not surprise discovering that a scientist could be a Christian and have such a position.\nBy the way, why we all need to care so much about what Dawkins thinks?
Avatar of: Michael Holloway

Michael Holloway

Posts: 55

March 30, 2010

Please note that, based on his previous writings, Dr. Sean B Carroll, a biologist, not an astronomer (why are you quoting an astronomer exactly?), is most likely happy with the Templeton award, and supports defusing the confusion sown by extreme atheists (Dawkins, Myers, etc) and extreme religious fundamentalist (Discovery Institute, AIG, etc). A pox on both their houses. There is no need for acrimony between religion and science, and it's far too attractive an addictive candy for the news media. It isn't necessary to insist that one negates the other, or that believers need an "alternative" science. What is necessary is that more people shout down the extremists. Both religion and science are suffering because of them.
Avatar of: Mitchell Wachtel

Mitchell Wachtel

Posts: 30

April 2, 2010

The article on Xu was one of the best you've done; please provide the same service for Zhou. Stories of complex fraud are the most entertaining crime stories. \n\nResearchers and businessmen have told me repeatedly to carefully maintain a reputation for integrity to do business more than once in China. That a few rogues exist does not change the overall character of Chinese society. This century will likely be the Chinese century because of their honesty, ability, and industry.

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