This week: plans for a health R&D agency, Covid-19 inequalities and a new research centre
In depth: Legislators from both major parties in the United States are gearing up to increase funding for government research agencies through a slew of bills introduced to both chambers of Congress.
Also this week from Research Professional News
Academies call for $200m to study atmospheric engineering—Potential of atmospheric additives to mitigate global warming should be explored, experts say
Here is the rest of the US news this week…
New health funding agency outlined
Ideas for a new federal funding agency for breakthrough medical research, which president Joe Biden has said will be developed under his administration, have been outlined by one of the agency’s proponents. Geneticist Mike Stebbins said the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency, modelled on the widely praised Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, would “directly address the massive market failure at the centre of the health enterprise”. Stebbins is a former assistant director for biotechnology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He said Harpa should be funded separately to the National Institutes of Health.
Survey confirms unequal Covid-19 impacts
A survey of staff at an unnamed US university system by the consultancy Ithaka S+R found that researchers who are women or caregivers—and particularly those who are both—are struggling more than others with their professional and personal responsibilities due to Covid-19. Obtaining laboratory supplies was reported to be the hardest research-related task for male and female respondents, while tweaking creative or laboratory courses was the hardest part of teaching. Ithaka S+R suggested institutions should “reduce or suspend research publication requirements”, among other mitigation measures. A separate National Institutes of Health survey of its grantees found that most thought Covid-19 had hit their productivity and would harm their careers.
Broad Institute bags $300m for data and life sciences centre
The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has been gifted $300 million in two equal donations from the philanthropic family funds Schmidt Futures and the Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation. The former funder is named after Google founder Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy, and the gift will fund an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center for “interdisciplinary research at the intersection of data science and life science”, the institute said. The Schmidts’ donation was matched by the institute’s original and namesake funder.