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Research Clips

A weekly roundup of research news items curated from the professional development groups within the AAMC’s Scientific Affairs cluster and other sources.

From the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS)

Many biomedical researchers have been “stunned” by a new Trump administration policy that bans government-sponsored fetal tissue research, reports Science. The article notes that tissue offering a wide array of research possibilities, including finding treatments for diabetes and HIV/AIDS, will no longer be used by the NIH intramural program. The new policy also will add another level of review to any NIH-funded projects that involve fetal tissue.
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Kaiser Health News posted an FAQ on how HHS’ new fetal tissue policy affects research. MarketWatch similarly offered an explanation of fetal tissue research and the nature of the ongoing controversy.
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Some researchers are worried that the crackdown on fetal tissue research will turn into an outright ban and darken prospects for promising experiments into Zika and fetal development, among other things, reported the Associated Press.
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The New York Times ran an editorial noting that the Republican Party in the recent past was broadly supportive of fetal tissue research, even in its most conservative reaches, and the topic was the center of several bipartisan efforts in Congress, dating back to the George H.W. Bush administration. But “not anymore,” the piece notes.
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And Carolyn Coyne, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, contributed an opinion column to the Washington Post noting that fetal tissue research is particularly important in finding cures for diseases affecting infants and children — thereby putting at risk the population some say this new policy believes it protects.
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Luminaries from the world of biomedical research, including Nobel Prize winners David Baltimore, PhD, and Harold Varmus, MD, were among more than 80 scientists who signed a letter to key members of Congress expressing concern about draft legislation that could make laws or products of nature eligible for patents. “We fear that the consequent changes in eligibility would substantially increase the numbers and kinds of U.S. patents, producing an unintended, detrimental effect on the conduct of basic scientific research. These changes are likely to undermine a remarkably successful tradition in which discovery of the fundamental features of nature proceeds in a generally open fashion, with little or no intellectual property protection, allowing inventors to take full advantage of discoveries about the natural world in order to make products that contribute to our nation’s economic growth and well-being,” they wrote.
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NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, called for an end to all-male scientific panels, sometimes referred to as “manels,” reported the New York Times.
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MedPage Today explored how the AMA is working to equalize gender imbalances in research.
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The Department of Energy is banning its researchers from joining Chinese talent-recruitment programs after uncovering the involvement of foreign military elements in such programs, reported the Wall Street Journal.
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Shan Ping Yu, MD, PhD, a tenured professor of anesthesiology at Emory University, is claiming the institution is retaliating against him for his activism on behalf of foreign scientists accused of having undisclosed foreign ties, reported Science.
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Vaping device maker JUUL is giving Meharry Medical College a $7.5 million grant to research the impact of electronic cigarettes and vaping, said the Associated Press. According to the piece, Meharry says the grant is structured to give the institution “full autonomy” and “sole ownership of the sponsored research and complete control over the publication of the findings.”
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Inside Higher Ed covered a study published in Sex Roles that showed gender and race stereotypes heavily impact hiring decisions for postdoctoral researchers.
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Even after the FDA issued a letter warning about safety concerns from unproven stem cell therapies, the NIH’s clinical trials database, clinicaltrials.gov, listed studies tied to a problematic Arizona stem cell therapy distributor, said STAT.
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The AAMC’s Collaborative for Health Equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence (CHARGE) is encouraging members to submit research proposals for access to publicly available data from the multiyear AAMC Consumer Survey of Health Care Access. An informational webinar on June 18 at 1 p.m. ET will explain the call for research in more detail. The deadline for proposals is July 24.
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