Today's news

October 7, 2005

Clinical academics get £100m booster
The Government is putting up £100 million in funding to lure doctors into academia. Universities have been warning that they cannot compete with registrar wages and are having difficulty getting doctors to take up lecture posts and help train the next generation of teachers. The £100 million award scheme, announced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Department of Health, will eventually fund up to 200 new senior lectureships, 400 clinical lectureships and 750 academic clinical fellowships over the next ten years.
The Guardian

Gunmen kidnap Palestinian professor
A Palestinian university professor known as a Hamas leader was kidnapped from his West Bank home late Thursday by four Arabic-speaking gunmen, his wife said. She said the gunmen, firing in the air, pounded on the door of their home in the town of Tulkarem and then escaped with her husband, Riad Abdel Karim al-Raz, 47, head of the engineering department at A-Najah University in Nablus.
The Guardian

Academic to review role of expert witnesses
The role of expert witnesses in criminal trials is to be independently reviewed to see what lessons can be learnt from convictions overturned due to flawed evidence. William O'Brien, an academic from the University of Warwick, will look at 7,300 cases referred to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. It is the first time the body, which looks into potential miscarriages of justice, will open its files to somebody outside the organisation.
The Scotsman, The Evening Standard

Cancer vaccine will end routine smear tests
Cervical cancer, which kills 300,000 women a year around the world, could be largely prevented by a vaccine, researchers have found. The first big study of a cervical cancer vaccine has proved 100 per cent successful - a “stunning result”, according to one specialist. The results offer hope that women may be spared the indignity of undergoing regular smear tests to detect early signs of the disease. “We’re breaking out the champagne,” said Eliav Barr, head of clinical development for the drug, which is manufactured by Merck under the name Gardasil. “To have 100 per cent efficacy is something that you have very rarely.”
The Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

Ulster breakthrough for diabetes
Drugs that could provide a breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes are being developed by scientists at the University of Ulster and are nearly ready for clinical trials. The news came as a World Health Organisation report this week identified diabetes as one of the major health issues facing the world in the 21st century. Diabetes deaths are set to rise in the UK alone by 25 per cent in a decade as obesity continues to increase, according to the report.
The Daily Mail

Penguin poop scoops Ig Nobel prize
When Claire Rind and Peter Simmons, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, decided to investigate the brain functions of locusts, the Force was clearly with them. Their experiment, in which they sat insects in front of scenes from Star Wars and measured their brains’ response, yesterday received the international recognition it deserves - an Ig Nobel Prize for research that “cannot or should not be reproduced”. Other scientists on last night’s roll of dishonour included Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow, of International University, Bremen, who won the Fluid Dynamics prize for his paper: “Pressures produced when penguins pooh: Calculations on avian defecation.”
The Times, The Guardian

Something fishy down at London Aquarium
The world's first autonomously controlled robotic fish were unveiled yesterday at the London Aquarium. The fish have sensor controls and navigation capabilities, enabling them to swim around a tank, avoid objects and react to their environment. They aim to swim at the same speed as tuna and have the acceleration of a pike and the navigation skills of an eel. The fish have been developed by Huosheng Hu and his robotics team at the University of Essex.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

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