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US news roundup: 4-10 June


This week: ‘gain of function’ research, student loan repayments and Czech ties

In depth: The top science adviser to the US president has put diversity at the heart of his agenda after he was sworn in as the new chief of the White House science and technology office.

Full story: Diversity tops agenda for chief US science adviser

Also this week from Research Professional News

Jabs are best bet for Covid-safe campuses, US government says—Department of Education backs vaccinations in disease prevention guidance for universities


Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Fears resurface over ‘gain of function’ research

Frank Lucas and Mike Waltz, leading Republicans on the House science committee and research subcommittee, have written to the White House science office to ask about its support for research into enhancing pathogen capabilities—known as ‘gain of function’ research. They asked whether, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the White House would review federal support for such work and explore the decision to lift a moratorium on it in 2017.

Republicans call for end to student loan freeze

Congressional Republicans have called for a federal student loan repayment holiday not to be extended, saying the current extension through to September 2021 will cost at least $36 billion. The freeze, introduced by former president Donald Trump in March 2020, was extended by president Joe Biden earlier this year. The freeze cost taxpayers $40bn in the 2020 financial year, senator Richard Burr and representative Virginia Foxx said.

Ground laid for US-Czech research partnerships

Researchers in the United States and the Czech Republic will be able to work together more closely after the US National Science Foundation and the Czech Science Foundation signed an agreement allowing collaborative proposals to be assessed through one review process at the NSF. Members from successful teams will be funded by the agency in their home country, and the partnership between the two agencies will see them collaborate on artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and plasma science.