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"The EU must first support home-grown researchers until they can compete on a level playing field with US scientists." Putting companies on notice As a public relations counselor, I agree completely with your requirement that companies seeking coverage should provide news, not "unquestioning boosterism."1 They should understand that real news about their products serves their interests, not just the journalist. At the same time,

The Scientist Staff
May 31, 2007
"The EU must first support home-grown researchers until they can compete on a level playing field with US scientists."

Putting companies on notice

As a public relations counselor, I agree completely with your requirement that companies seeking coverage should provide news, not "unquestioning boosterism."1 They should understand that real news about their products serves their interests, not just the journalist. At the same time, I disagree that "boosterism" is "public relations." Real public relations is essentially good performance, well communicated. It has substance. For example, the CEO who refuses to discuss the future of his workforce may cause enormous damage to the morale of his employees. Good public relations is telling employees what you know when you know it about the future of their company and their paycheck. I applaud your efforts to require hard facts in your coverage. Your readers and the companies you cover are well served...

1. R. Gallagher, "Companies, you're on notice," The Scientist, 21(4):13, April 2007.

Who discovered interferons?

In your April issue, you celebrated the 50 years with interferons referring to the paper published by the British and Swiss scientists Isaacs and Lindenmann who coined the word "interferon" in 1957. 1 However, the discovery of interferon activity (i.e., an endogenous anti-viral activity) was made by Japanese scientists three years earlier -in 1954. 2 They reported that rabbit-skin or testis previously inoculated with UV-inactivated virus exhibited inhibited viral growth when re-infected at the same site with live virus. They hypothesized that this was due to some "facteur inhibiteur" (inhibitory factor). Unfortunately for the Japanese, the term "facteur inhibiteur" they chose was not very attractive and the work being published in a French journal failed to have a great impact.

Jean-Marc Cavaillon
Institute Pasteur
Paris, France
jmcavail@pasteur.fr

References

1. A. Gawrylewski,
"Fifty years with interferons," The Scientist, 21(4):104, April 2007. 2. Y. Nagano & Y. Kojima, "[Immunizing property of vaccinia virus inactivated by ultraviolet rays]," C R Seances Soc Biol Fil, 148:1700-2, 1954.

Clones: Trust but verify

Re: "Korean wolf study pulled." 1 The cloning community should make it standard practice to have independent verification of their clones prior to publication eliminating a serious problem for the scientific community as a whole.

Mary Lynn Haasch
mlhaasch@yahoo.com

Should US researchers get EU funds?

Re: "Could US scientists get EU funding?" 1 The EU has an underdeveloped research environment compared to the United States. The EU must first support home-grown researchers until they can compete on a level playing field with US scientists.

EU scientists have had to wait a long time to have research well-funded. First, let's tend to our own scientists and grow the industry for the future. Funding US scientists will lead to spin off companies that stay in the US. We need that sort of investment to stay in the EU for now.

Tom Crean
Avant Immunotherapeutics
Needham, MA
tcrean@avantimmune.com

I'm a Belgian national, and I am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher for an American university. Being a European in the United States is unfortunately a bad scenario for getting grants at the postdoctoral level: we are excluded from many US grants for not being a national or a permanent resident, and excluded from European grants for not being based in the EU. If making European grants available to all researchers based outside of Europe would be a step too big to take, making funds available to Europeans outside of Europe might be an acceptable compromise.

Nicholas Brunet
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
brunet@u.washington.edu

It's about time for some reciprocity. When I managed a US-based, international non-profit organization, our medical advisory board decided that we should award our small research grants to the best putative science no matter in which country the scientist lived and worked. That should be the goal of all funding agencies, not just the National Institutes of Health. Though retired, I am still paying taxes and I feel that our scientists should be able to compete for all funds.

Judy Rosner
Parkinson's Disease Foundation of New York
Elmhurst, IL
neuwrite@earthlink.net

It is not only a good idea for US researchers to compete for EU research funds, to level the field of global competition, but it is a formal recognition of the already existing fact that "brain drain" is not as one-sided as it once was.

Andras J. Pellionisz
pellionisz@junkdna.com

Errata

In our May issue, Lexicon was listed without a rank in 2006's Best Places To Work survey. Lexicon ranked 8th in the Top 40 Companies chart in 2006. Also in the May issue, the phrase "hone in" should have read "home in" in the feature on fMRI and lie detection. The Scientist regrets these errors.