The week in science and science policy 10/30/17-11/5/17

By | November 6, 2017

1. Sen. Rand Paul’s mission to change federal research proposal peer-review panels

Senator Paul proposed a bill that would add two new members to peer-review panels for federal funding applications. One would be an expert in a field unrelated to the research who has not worked in academia for 10 years, while the other would be a “taxpayer advocate” who would consider the returns on research funding for society.

Judging a research proposal on “value to taxpayers” goes against much of what the mission of science should be. Science should be exploration based, not value based. Often the most valuable discoveries completely unpredictable sources, like CRISPR.

2. When does in vitro genetic selection become eugenics?

We are about to stumble into numerous ethical dilemmas concerning genetic manipulation. While it’s a topic that has been explored in media, I don’t think it’s something that we as a society are prepared to discuss, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be talking about it anyways. I don’t think that a knee-jerk reaction banning genetic modification is the right choice, but neither should we allow everything. That being said, the kind of important scientific/political debate we need is something that I just don’t see our government being capable of right now.

3. FDA regulation of consumer genetic testing

This is a great summary of how the FDA regulates consumer genetic sequencing, and how companies are evolving to fit new FDA regulations.

4. 314 Action has set up a science whistleblower site.

The more Pres. Trump and his associates seek to hide facts and impede in true research, the more important this is. Kudos to 314 Action for reaching out.

5. Variation in U.S. Postdocs pay

As a senior Ph.D. student that will soon move into a postdoc, this is disconcerting. Postdoctoral Fellows are what American science is built on, and it’s a flawed system.

6. Say goodbye to impartial science advice

7. Senator Lamar Smith, Chair of the House Science Committee, will retire

Good riddance.

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