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US news roundup: 25 September to 1 October


This week: emergency funds needed at the NSF, foreign interference, Nasa returns and more

In depth: Leading Democrats have tabled legislation that would bring about heightened scrutiny of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the Covid-19 pandemic, amid a spate of rows over alleged political interference at scientific agencies overseen by the department.

Full storyDemocrats demand action on interference at science agencies


Also this week from Research Professional News

Howard Hughes Medical Institute joins Plan S open-access initiative—Initiative reinforced by largest private biomedical research institution in the United States


 Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Bilateral plea for emergency NSF funds

Democratic and Republican members of Congress have signed a letter calling for the National Science Foundation to get $3 billion in emergency relief to help its grantees deal with difficulties posed by Covid-19. “Without emergency relief, we risk losing the return on the investments that we have already made in the careers of United States scientists, the science they advance and the research infrastructure that supports them,” the letter said.

Concern over foreign interference in biomedical research

Three House Republicans, including the top-ranking members of the energy committee and health subcommittee, have written to the National Institutes of Health and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ask for details on the agencies’ joint efforts to curb “foreign influence” over NIH-funded research. Apart from asking for details on investigations and reforms, the politicians noted that most NIH grantees, foreign or not, were “honest contributors”.

‘Tremendous’ financial returns at Nasa

Nasa claims to have added $64.3 billion to the United States’ economic output during the 2019 financial year, according to an agency report on its economic impact. Its work also produced around $7bn in tax receipts, it said. “This study confirms, and puts numbers, to what we have long understood—that taxpayer investment in America’s space programme yields tremendous returns,” said the agency’s head Jim Bridenstine. In the same year, the agency supported more than 312,000 jobs in the US, the report said.

Grant seeks ‘to reinvigorate the humanities’

The National Endowment for the Humanities, the United States’ main federal funder for the disciplines, is jointly funding a call to support the development of courses to build students’ critical thinking. Co-funded by the Teagle Foundation, the call offers planning and implementation grants for institutions and organisations wanting to design and teach critical thinking, including universities in their general education programmes, which it aims to “reinvigorate” nationwide.