The latest policy and funding news from the US
In depth: The United States government is delivering on its ambition to accelerate research on key technologies, announcing $765 million in funding for 12 new research centres on quantum information science and artificial intelligence.
Here is the rest of the US news this week…
Prominent health researchers have warned the Trump administration not to approve any vaccines against Covid-19 before sufficient evidence has been gathered of their effectiveness and safety. The Infectious Diseases Society of America wrote to the Food and Drug Administration on 26 August saying that corner cutting “could significantly undermine Covid-19 vaccination efforts and seriously erode confidence in all vaccines”. The FDA subsequently announced that development and authorisation of Covid-19 vaccines will be discussed at a public meeting of its vaccines advisory committee on 22 October. “It is critical for people to see FDA’s expectations for data to support safety and effectiveness,” said FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn.
Tech researcher named as next Darpa leader
The Department of Defense has announced that leading technology researcher and innovator Victoria Coleman will be the next director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Coleman is a former vice-president at technology companies Yahoo! and Hewlett-Packard, and has an “extensive academic background leading research” in areas including artificial intelligence, microelectronics and consumer electronics, the department said. Acting Darpa director Peter Highnam will return to his role as deputy director of the agency, which focuses on novel technologies with applications for military use.
Chinese researchers arrested on spying charges
Three Chinese researchers working in the United States have been arrested and charged with various offences linked to spying, the Department of Justice announced. The department said that Texas A&M University professor Zhengdong Cheng had obscured his collaboration with a Chinese university and such collaboration was forbidden by his grant from the government. In addition, the DoJ said Haizhou Hu of the University of Virginia was charged with accessing a computer without authorisation and theft of trade secrets and Guan Lei of the University of California, Los Angeles was charged with destroying evidence to obstruct an FBI investigation after he was observed disposing of a hard drive.
Rules issued for distance learning for higher education
The Department of Education issued rules governing distance learning in higher education, which it said “emphasise demonstrated learning over seat time”. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said: “While we moved quickly at the start of the pandemic to provide temporary distance learning flexibilities for students, these new regulations provide a permanent upgrade to online and competency-based education.”