Go back

US news roundup: 16-22 April


This week: rising R&D spending, the next crewed moon mission and a flu research network

In depth: Lawmakers from both major parties in the Unites States have questioned plans to increase the budget of the National Science Foundation, expressing concern that the planned expansion could move the funder away from its core mission and create overlap with other agencies.

Full story: Plans to expand US National Science Foundation challenged

Also this week from Research Professional News

US federal ban on use of foetal tissue in research overturned—Biden administration lifts restrictions brought in under predecessor, which were condemned by researchers


Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Business drives 6 per cent rise in US R&D spend

Spending on R&D in the US is estimated to have risen by $50 billion dollars between 2018 and 2019, according to the latest provisional data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. In 2019, overall US R&D investment was $656bn across business, government, higher education and non-profit sectors. The annual increase, which amounts to 6 per cent after controlling for inflation, was largely driven by business R&D, which grew at a faster rate than other sectors.

Nasa picks SpaceX for next crewed moon mission 

The private aerospace company SpaceX has won a $2.89 billion Nasa contract to build the landing craft for the agency’s next crewed mission to the moon. The mission will see four astronauts travel to lunar orbit in an Orion spacecraft, lofted by a Nasa Space Launch System rocket. Days later, two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX craft to descend to the lunar surface in the first commercial craft to do so. Nasa has said a woman and a person of colour will be among the two crew members who will make the next ‘leap for mankind’. The chair of the House science committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, said she was “disappointed” the contract had been awarded without a permanent Nasa head in-post, adding that there was “no realistic chance of returning US astronauts to the moon by 2024”.

NIH launches flu research network 

The National Institutes of Health has set up a network of research sites to study the natural history, transmission and pathogenesis of influenza. The Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Response will also provide an international research infrastructure for outbreaks. The network will get about $24 million in funding in its first year. It replaces a similar NIH Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance programme, which wound up on 31 March.