ESSAY Competition: Young voices in research for health

Young voices in research for health

The Global Forum for Health Research and The Lancet are sponsoring their second joint essay competition on the occasion of Forum 11, the 2007 annual meeting of the Global Forum for Health Research in Beijing, People's Republic of China, 29 October to 2 November 2007.

Entries relating to some aspect of the overall theme of Forum 11: Equitable access, research challenges for health in developing countries are invited from young professionals working in or interested in the broad spectrum of health research for development.

Deadline for submissions: 20 APRIL 2007

For rules, guidelines, principles, timeframe and prizes see:

Scientist Without Borders: new initiative from NYAS

New York Academy of Sciences has announced its plans for a new initiative, in support of the Mellennium Development Goals (MDGs), to launch an ambitious project entitled Scientist Without Borders.

For details, please see the following links:

Here are the stated goals:

"To generate synergies where they often don’t exist, Scientists Without BordersSM will create a simple but powerful tool—an online database that will consolidate contacts and information about the location, goals, needs, and other attributes of research-based and capacity-building projects, as well as a list of individuals and institutions that want assistance and a roster of experts who are willing to help. In so doing, we will tackle three major under-addressed opportunities in the developing world:

1. Aligning the many capacity-building efforts that take place in close physical proximity to one another, but without meaningful contact, thus losing out on advice and assets that could enhance and/or complement activities.
2. Creating connections among scientists, organizations, and funding agencies to match needs with available resources.
3. Linking individuals with institutions or projects that would welcome their expertise."

Bleak future for life science research in the US

Here is a very interesting article about the plea of US scientist to the current administration to increase research funding. Most young scientists are turning away from research to the deterimant of US innovation and discovery. This affects young scientist most severly, but business, law, and other fields are enjoying the benefits of this highly qualified talented pool of eager employees.
New report: America's scientific and medical progress threatened by flat funding for NIH

Leading US universities call for increased NIH funding to protect health, retain nation's scientists, shore up US global leadership in research

(Washington, D.C.) – Years of stagnant budgets outpaced by inflation threaten the progress of biomedical research and could thwart advances in treatments that are within reach, nine of the nation's most preeminent scientific and medical institutions told Congress today. In a new report on the status of U.S. medical research and its funding, the group explained how perennially flat funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has halted promising research in mid-stream, challenged seasoned researchers to continue to achieve scientific progress, and threatened the future of young investigators pursuing careers in academic research. And, if left unaddressed, these problems could undermine U.S. global leadership in biomedical research, the report warns.

"When scientists have to spend most of their time trying to get funded, caution wins out over cutting-edge ideas, creativity sacrifices to convention, and scientific progress gives way to meetings and grant applications," said report contributor and infectious disease expert Robert Siliciano, M.D., Ph.D., at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Right now, very, very productive scientists are doing too little research. Instead, they are spending their time trying to get their labs funded again," he said.

The report was co-authored by The University of California, Columbia University, Harvard University, The Johns Hopkins University, Partners HealthCare, The University of Texas at Austin, Washington University in St. Louis, The University of Wisconsin Madison, and Yale University.

The group says that to fulfill the promise of previous investments by Congress the country needs to provide more consistent and robust funding of NIH. According to the report, Within Our Grasp—Or Slipping Away? Assuring a New Era of Scientific and Medical Progress, the doubling of NIH's budget between 1998 and 2003 enabled advances in basic research that transformed understanding of diseases affecting millions of Americans. But the NIH budget has been virtually frozen since 2003 and has shrunk by at least 8 percent after inflation is considered, with recent estimates up to 13 percent. Most recently, a small increase approved by Congress in the 2007 budget would be virtually wiped out by the Bush Administration's proposed 2008 budget, continuing the downward spiral in inflation-adjusted dollars. The implications are far-reaching for science, medicine, the economy and U.S. leadership in biomedical science, they add.

The 21-page report says that the country reaped a strong pay-off from previous years of robust funding of basic biomedical research, achieving progress in treating and preventing many devastating diseases and conditions. But the American public will ultimately pay the price for slowing the pace of research as scientists downsize their laboratories and abandon some of their most innovative work.

The report argues that research momentum gains have slowed, and in some cases may be lost, if flat funding continues. For example, in the fight against cancer, "The number of drugs moving into the pipeline that are based on our new, more profound genetic and molecular understanding of cancer is extraordinary—and there's no money to handle the testing of these compounds," said Joan Brugge, Ph.D., who chairs the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School.

A similar situation faces the quest to cure spinal cord and brain injuries. "Ten years ago, the search for treatment of spinal cord injury was a daunting and hopeless task," said Stephen Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurology and neurobiology at Yale University's School of Medicine. Today that is changing, in part due to the discovery of NOGO, a molecule that prevents regeneration of spinal cord nerves. Scientists are investigating whether the molecule can be inhibited, allowing the spinal cord and neurons in the brain to repair themselves.

"The neurological sciences are on the launching pad of a revolution," according to Strittmatter. "We are at a juncture where we can begin identifying multiple molecular targets for the neurological diseases that have stymied us for so long. Without funding, they may go undiscovered, and we will have only weakly effective therapies."

The Threat to Future Scientific Endeavor

Despite the great push forward that accompanied the doubling of the NIH budget, subsequent flat funding has put many projects at risk. Today, eight of ten research grant applications are unfunded, according to the report. Those that are funded often require multiple submissions and suffer lapses in funding. Certain NIH institutes, such as the National Cancer Institute, report that they can only fund 11 percent of research project grant applications, rejecting many of exceptional quality.

The effects are being felt by both principal investigators and young researchers new to the field. For young researchers, the decreased funding contributes to another problem: a multi-year wait for receiving their first grant. In 1970, the average age recipient of a first grant was 34.2 years; today it is 41.7.

"Our product is not just our technology or medical breakthroughs," said Dr. Brent Iverson, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin. "Our College of Natural Sciences alone puts 1,000 undergrads in research situations in labs, most with NIH funding. That is a catalyst for creating innovative new scientists," he added.

Consequently, senior scientists fear that young people will turn away from science because the funding situation is so bleak. Scientists report that many of the brightest young minds no longer see the promise of a career in science, choosing law, business, and other professions. Losing young scientists today will cost the U.S. a lot later, the report warns. "That will have a generational impact that will take 15 years to fix," said Richard Davidson, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In addition, scientists are increasingly having to abandon some of their most innovative and promising research in favor of more conventional projects with more predictable results that are more likely to be funded. Principal investigators also must spend enormous amounts of time fundraising and writing grants rather than conducting research.

Others are following research dollars overseas, to countries in Europe and Asia that are making investment in biomedical sciences high national priorities and actively recruiting star U.S. scientists, according to scientists interviewed for the report.

Said Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel at Columbia University Medical Center, who contributed to the report: "The scientific community is one of the driving forces of the economy. In biology, it helps drive the pharmaceutical industry, and helps people live longer in a productive way. Now, the rug has been pulled from under science in this country. We'll lose scientific manpower to European countries, and to India, China and Japan."

The funding problem is so great that the NIH's 2007 "Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards," urges decisionmakers to consider "the goal of not losing outstanding laboratories," as they allocate limited funds, says the report.

The group says that addressing the funding crisis now is imperative given the demographics of the population. "Medical treatments take decades to develop," says Harvard's Dr. Brugge. "If we wait until the baby boomers retire to find the most effective means for prevention and treatment for diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer, we will break the bank."

Mechanism for research exchange

Dear All,

I enjoyed meeting you very much and am glad that we have started this group. I am in the process of getting my pictures together, as I returned yesterday. (Good thing, as we are getting a big snowstorm this weekend!)

As a part of the BioAction theme, I wanted to start off our conversations with mentioning "The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience" (IASTE). I actually heard about this particular program, which is partnered with UNESCO by attending a meeting this past September (Environmental Mutagen Society). This program allows students to travel and gain technical experience in many fields. I feel that this would be a great opportunity for young scientists. (From the website: Note that IASTE will help you to gain experience and also provide resources for getting visas, travel, etc.

"What does IAESTE offer to employers?
Sourcing and selection of high calibre technical students according to requirements
Hands-on service for easy and time-effective administration
Networking opportunities through foreign students and universities
Administration of work permit applications for placement students
Accommodation arrangement for placement students (Open exchange only)
Provision of pastoral and social care for placements students

What does IAESTE offer to students?
Provision of paid, technical work experience abroad for skill enhancement
Safe experience through IAESTE support network
Support with practical arrangements i.e. work permits / visa, accommodation and travel"

I look forward to working with you all in the near future!


Molecular Frontiers' Prize

this is to call your attention on a student competition, which will open soon:

This is not an ordinary competition, rather it aims to develop connections between youth and scientists. However, there are good prizes, too.

cognitive biases

Dear all,

I recently got interested into cognitive biases and would like to explore a bit the potential of these concepts for crowds(collective vs individual cognitive bias). However, I do not have any academic background in psychology.

Does anyone know about these topics and would be ready to give me a quick introduction to the literature?



Voice of Young Science Programme

Set up in 2004 by "Sense about Science", the VoYS programme helps young research scientists in postgraduate study or at the early stages of their career to get actively involved in public debates about science, particularly when they are contentious.

Learn more at:

Un texte, un mathématicien

Bonjour tout le monde

Et encore bravo à ceux qui ont courageusement consacré une semaine de leurs vacances à la mécanique quantique.

je soumets à votre attention cette conférence qui a lieu à la bibliothèque nationale (BNF). je crains que peu d'entre vous puissent y aller, comme elle a lieu le mercredi, mais si vous êtes libres, elle promet d'être intéressante et ludique.

Un mathématicien va partir d'une lettre d'Euler, grand mathématicien du XVIIIe siècle, et suivre le parcours des idées qui y sont introduites. Comme il s'agit de combinatoire, on peut «voir et toucher».

C'est le mercredi 14, à 18h30.

Plus de renseignements sur

À bientôt

Les ondes, messagères des étoiles / en VoD sur TéléSavoirs

Bonjour à tous,
Je vous fais suivre un message de Livio.

La Web-TV du débat scientifique
Eclairer, comprendre, débattre
les questions scientifiques contemporaines,
en vidéo à la demande (VoD)

Les ondes,
messagères des étoiles
(visionnez un extrait de l’émission en cliquant ici)

au Bar des sciences de Paris


Joe WIART, Ingénieur des télécommunications / Directeur de recherche, France Télécom R & D

Etienne PARIZOT, Astrophysicien au Laboratoire "Astroparticule et Cosmologie" / Professeur à Paris 7

Comment savoir ce qui se passe dans une étoile ? Comment savoir où se trouvent les étoiles, comment elles se sont formées, ce qu’elles vont devenir…

Inutile de rêver les approcher – excepté notre Soleil – elles sont trop loin. Même si le Soleil est bien proche de nous - qu’est-ce que 150 millions de km devant l’immensité du ciel - il est bien trop chaud pour espérer l’approcher sans se brûler les ailes. Alors, que reste-t-il ? Récupérer et analyser ce que les étoiles nous envoient : les ondes, la lumière... Tout l’art des chercheurs est de décrypter ces petits signaux - bien souvent invisibles à nos yeux. En outre, ces ondes ne viennent pas seulement des étoiles. Qui n’a entendu parler du micro-ondes ? des ondes radios… ? S’agit-il des mêmes ? Comment sont-elles produites ? De quoi sont-elles faites ?

Le catalogue TéléSavoirs : 80 sujets, plus de 400 séquences vidéo exclusives

Les émissions TéléSavoirs sont accessibles :

1 - en libre accès lorsqu’elles bénéficient de soutien (subventions, parrainage, mécénat, publicité,…) pour leur production et leur diffusion

2 - par abonnement, notamment pour les médiathèques, bibliothèques, lycées, universités, CCSTI, Espaces Publics Numériques, cyber-bases, centres multimédia, centres culturels et lycées français à l‘étranger, Alliances françaises, TV locales, …

3 - en vidéo à la demande : «micro-paiement» via Audiotel, SMS, carte téléphonique ou carte bancaire


Gaétan Cambra
Tél. + 33 (0)6 89 67 73 49

Votre avis est précieux, n’hésitez pas à nous en faire part.

Open Access vs. Peer Review (or, Debate vs. Propaganda)

Via Nature:

Nature has learned, a group of big scientific publishers has hired the pit bull to take on the free-information movement, which campaigns for scientific results to be made freely available. Some traditional journals, which depend on subscription charges, say that open-access journals and public databases of scientific papers such as the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) PubMed Central, threaten their livelihoods.

While the debate between the merits and pitfalls of Open Access and Peer Review rages on, those with the greatest economic stake in its outcome are pulling no punches in trying to ensure their survival.

What the big journals fail to mention is that open access is not meant as a subsitute for peer review, but as a companion to it. Open Access - essentially free online access to scholarly papers - is meant to complement peer review. In fact, the most succesful open access journals still use some form or another of peer review in their process. Indeed, current methods of achieving open access still use one form or another of peer review.

And what of peer review itself? While conceptually it is supposed to serve the needs of the scientific community (and therefore, by extension, the whole of humanity), there's evidence to prove that it has been responsible for more than its share of problems as well:

It has been suggested that peer review is an inherently
conservative process, that encourages the emergence of
self-serving cliques of reviewers, who are more likely to
review each others’ grant proposals and publications
favourably than those submitted by researchers from
outside the group
. This could have a number of
consequences. For instance, it may:

  • discourage researchers from moving into new fields in
    which they have no track record;

  • make it difficult for junior researchers to obtain grants
    or publish their research;

  • present difficulties for multidisciplinary work, since
    peer review committees that do not contain individuals
    qualified to judge all aspects of a proposal may be less
    likely to approve the funding;

  • result in the funding/publication of ‘safe’ research that
    fits neatly into the conventional wisdom and work
    against innovative, ‘risky’ or unconventional ideas.

Peer review can be relatively slow and inefficient both for
funding and publication. Reasons for this may include:

  • failure of referees to keep to deadlines -reviewers are
    commonly given 3-4 weeks to complete and submit
    reviews, but typically only 50% keep to this deadline;

  • inconsistency between referees often means that more
    must be sought, thus slowing the process;

  • recruiting and retaining referees is increasingly difficult
    (acceptance rates are typically as low as 50%);

  • the lengthy time taken for editors and funding bodies
    to reach a decision regarding the fate of an application
    (sometimes up to six months).

The real issue is - as always - a threat to the profit margins of established corporations who are unable or unwilling to adapt to the evolving scientific ecosystem. Even the AAP (Association of American Publishers) themselves are very blunt about it:

"We're like any firm under siege," says Barbara Meredith, a vice-president at the organization. "It's common to hire a PR firm when you're under siege." She says the AAP needs to counter messages from groups such as the Public Library of Science (PLoS), an open-access publisher and prominent advocate of free access to information

It bears repeating that this isn't a debate at all between Open Access and Peer Review. "Peer Review", by nature, is an essential part of scholarly editing and screening and will likely be present in one form or another for years to come. The debate is whether it will continue to be monopolized, commercialized and hoarded for personal and monetary gain by certain publishers, instead of serving to promote the quality and dissemination of scientific articles as it should.

Open Access is the natural evolution of scientific information availability on the world-wide web, and provides access to quality scientific publications to a much, much wider audience. Combined with a structurally sound, reformed peer review process, it can form the basis for a viable, self-sustaining, highly mobile, agile scientific publishing and dissemination platform - Peer-Reviewed Open Access (PROA). As young scientists, you are called on to do the Lion's share of the work to ensure the development of the protocols, standards and resources around this platform... but you are also those who stand to gain the most from it.

Concordantly, by engaging "pitbull" PR firms to spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) about Open Access, corporate scientific publishing firms are basically the moral equivalent of a child kicking at the waves as the ocean comes to bring down his sandcastle.

Wikipedia articles on Peer Review and Open Access.

Another viewpoint on the debate.

Bourse d´étude (Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde)

ENDA TM (Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde) – annonce le lancement de son programme de bourses 2006-2007 dans le cadre du projet Développement des Capacités face aux Changements Climatiques (C3D), intitulé: « Le renforcement des capacités en Afrique:
comprendre la vulnérabilité aux changements climatiques et préparer des stratégies d'adaptation ».

Ce programme de bourses est mis en oeuvre par ENDA Tiers Monde (ENDA–TM), Programme Energie,Environnement, Développement, en partenariat avec l'Institut des Nations Unies pour la Formation et la Recherche(UNITAR) qui coordonne le projet C3D. Il répond aux besoins de l'Afrique en termes de développement des capacités, de partage des connaissances et de formation dans le domaine de la vulnérabilité humaine et environnementale et de l'adaptation aux effets des changements climatiques. Il s'agit principalement, comme cela est
précisé ci-dessous dans les sections « Objectifs » et « Résultats attendus », de contribuer au développement d'un vivier de connaissances et de d'expertises africaines sur le thème :

La vulnérabilité socio-économique et écologique et l'adaptation dans le domaine des changements climatiques, avec un accent particulier sur les moyens de subsistance.
Les intéressés ont jusqu'au 9 février 2007 pour soumettre leur candidature.

Pour en savoir plus, consultez le site suivant :
http://www.jeunesse .francophonie. org/

Bonne chance

Research grants for environmental economics issues in Africa

Research grants for environmental economics issues in Africa

The grant will fund research projects for up to a maximum amount of US$12,500 each. Members of the research team of funded projects will also enjoy further support through technical and scientific mentorship mechanisms and participation in Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa (CEEPA) research workshops and other events.

CEEPA encourages research proposals that focus mainly on the broader environmental economics and policy in African countries. Proposals that seek to suggest alternative strategies, policies and programs to reduce present and future environmental burdens in African countries as well as proposals whose results would lead to improvement in the monitoring and measurement of environmental phenomenon are also encouraged.

CEEPA also particularly welcomes proposals contributing to development of new methods and extensions of the theories of natural resource and environmental economics. Collaborative arrangements for joint studies with members of sister departments are strongly encouraged, in which case additional funding will be considered.

Eligible candidates include all researchers working in the field in eastern, central and southern Africa. The research committee, in consultation with the secretariat and resource persons will apply the criteria given below in evaluating new proposals:

* policy relevance - whether the question being proposed is potentially useful to policymakers, academic community or civil society;
* academic merit – whether the research objectives are clearly set out? Is the proposed methodology the right one and is it feasible? Is the relevant literature cited and correctly interpreted? What are the novel features in the proposal? and;
* collaborative arrangements for joint studies with members of sister departments – in this case the research committee may consider additional funding for more than the above individual grant amount.

Contact details: Send all proposals to: Dalène du Plessis, Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Afric, Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, Republic of South Africa. Email:

Website for further information:

Authors for Agriculture volume of GLOBAL TEXT PROJECT

Dear WAYSers,

Good day. I am working on the Agriculture volume of GLOBAL TEXT PROJECT,

Those who like to contribue kindly contact me,

Balasubramanian Ramani

Thanks much,

Bala R

News 01/28/07 (wlp)°


News 01/28/07

We would like to extend the (wlp)° lecture fund significantly – and your help is welcome.
We have made it even easier for you to add lectures to our site and to edit their data.

Add a lecture:
We facilitated the linking of lectures to the (wlp)° database. Just log in and click on "add a lecture". As soon as you have filled in the form, your lecture – or the lecture you found – is available at (wlp)°.

Edit a lecture:
You can edit now all data of the lectures: Complete the list of keywords and the summary or add links to additional material and adjust incorrect entries. Just log in, choose the lecture you want to edit, click on “details”, and find the “edit” button.

Of course, we will have a look at your entries!

two-week English spoken training on Land evaluation with Open Source Geomatics tools with emphasis on the GRASS for Windows

The training will take place from 27 August to 7 September 2007 in Leuven, Belgium

Open Source Software (OSS) is technically defined as software of which the source code is available to the public, or “open”. Use, modification and redistribution of the code is possible by everyone as long as the set terms and conditions are respected. FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) is OSS that is freely available. Over the last few years the development and use of OSS and FOSS has gained importance within the geospatial community. OSS4G and FOSS4G (Free and Open Source Software for Geomatics) have become popular acronyms. However, the extremely dynamic and rather unstructured offer of (F)OSS4G-solutions, the lack of formal support and the reluctance to engage in new lines of technology have so far prevented many users to take the step to (F)OSS despite important potential benefits.

The short training is designed to help participants to

Evaluate the potential of (F)OSS4G for the discipline of physical land evaluation;
Identify strong and weak points of FOSS4G-solutions and ways to handle them;
Acquire hands-on experience with the GRASS- and related FOSS4G like Quantum-GIS and simultaneously, evaluate in detail the potential of the GRASS-software for WINDOWS, version 6.3 or higher, for spatial data handling and processing in the context of physical land evaluation.

In addition, the training will provide an update regarding
The evolving concepts of physical land evaluation;
The concepts and functionality of Geographic Information Systems;
The principles of earth remote sensing for acquisition of land-related data for further processing in GIS
The programme is conceived in a ‘Train the Trainer’ spirit. An important objective is to motivate and help the participants to further spread the knowledge and skills gained.

Targeted participants
Participants have a background in the management and/or planning of natural resources (soil, water, vegetation, climate), They are familiar with maps and PC’s. GIS is not completely new. They are professionals or researchers or future professionals or researchers dealing with rural development and planning. They have the ambition to play a leading role within their current and/or future organisations regarding education and training in land evaluation and land use planning, GIS and earth remote sensing.

Content of the training
A detailed overview of the training programme is presented below.

Requirements for participation
For successful participation, participants must

Have obtained a qualification of higher education (or equivalent through experience) in natural resource management and/or land use planning;
Have basic knowledge regarding physical geography, land evaluation, agri- and silviculture and ecology;
Be proficient in English. Candidates who have not had basic education in English must provide proof of thorough and active English knowledge;
Submit a letter of motivation, in which the importance of the training programme is explained;

Participants applying for a scholarship need in addition
To provide a recommendation letter, preferably from an academic person, who can evaluate the participant thoroughly.

Training Location
Geo-Institute of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Celestijnenlaan 200E
BE-3001 Leuven-Heverlee

Practical arrangements
Campus accommodation is available for all participants from developing countries. For participants, eligible for a VLIR-funded scholarship, flight tickets are booked and delivered by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Insurance for the duration of the course is also included for this group. After confirmation of admittance to the course you will be contacted for further practical arrangements.

Participation fee
a) Candidates from developing countries (according to the OESO/DAC list used by VLIR-UOS), who do not have any link with North or South programmes supported by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR), are eligible for a VLIR-funded scholarship. This scholarship covers - based on sound evidence - participation fee, flight from/to the home country to Brussels, accommodation, local insurance, social activities, local transport and – depending on the average flight cost – a contribution to daily subsistence expenditures. There is no participation fee. 12 scholarships are available.
b) Candidates from developing countries, who are active in North or South programmes supported by VLIR, are not eligible for a scholarship. The participation fee for this group is 500 Euro for the full training. No VAT is applicable. Travel, local transport, insurance, accommodation and subsistence must be covered by the participant (Total, including participation fee, estimated at 2.500 EUR). 8 seats are reserved for this category. Candidates from this group need to present a IUC form signed by their promoter.
c) The participation fee for other participants is 2.420 Euro for the full training or 1.210 EUR for one week participation . Both fees include 21% VAT. 10 seats are reserved for this category. Seats of this category, not occupied by 30 March, will be offered to students at a reduced price to be determined.

Candidates will be evaluated on a first come, first serve basis and will be notified ASAP about their admittance to the training. Early application is strongly recommended! The maximum number of participants is based on 2 participants per PC. Final subscription date is 30th March 2007.

More information and further updates regarding the programme will be published on the website.

Contact persons

Stefaan Vande Walle
Tel: +32 16 329727
Ludo Engelen
Tel: +32 16 329732