Today's news

December 2, 2005

Academics expected to approve super-union
The world's biggest academic "super-union" is expected to get the go-ahead today, with the result of a members' ballot on a proposed merger. Members of the Association of University Teachers and the lecturers' union Natfhe are expected to have approved the merger of their two unions, with a result due at 12.30pm. The new University and College Union, which has been planned for 18 months, would have 116,000 members in both the further and the higher education sectors. Both unions' councils have approved the plans, and the general secretaries of each, Paul Mackney at Natfhe and Sally Hunt at the AUT, have supported the moves.
The Guardian

Patent rights wrongs
Oxbridge academics are notorious for resisting change - in any form - and have preserved some of their most outdated practices and laws. This week, however, Cambridge dons began voting on reforms - to alter the management of intellectual property created by university staff - that they would be wise to reject. The proposed changes could hamper innovation and the commercialisation of research in a university that has excelled on both counts. Under the proposals, patents generated by internally funded research would be owned by the university.Currently, academics retain ownership of such intellectual property, in a system that is thought to be at least partly responsible for Cambridge's remarkable success at spinning off companies in "Silicon Fen".
The Financial Times

£350m needed to keep Britain's stem-cell lead
British stem-cell researchers need at least an extra £350 million from the Government over the next decade to prevent a brain drain and ensure the country retains its position as a world leader in the field, according to a report published yesterday. The report follows a nine-month review by the UK Stem Cell Initiative, which was set up by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown. The review, chaired by the former director of research and development at the Department of Health, Sir John Pattison, found that between £350 million and £520 million of extra funds are needed until 2016 to keep Britain at the forefront of a burgeoning field, which some believe will lead to therapies for cancers and neurological disorders.
The Guardian, The Times, The Independent

Man charged over UCE murder
A man was remanded in custody yesterday accused of murdering his wife, an employee at the University of Central England. Anurag Johri, 34, from Aston, Birmingham, appeared at the city's crown court via videolink, and is charged with killing university worker Deepti Anurag. The 29-year-old, from Harborne, Birmingham, was found with fatal head injuries on November 18 at the University of Central England's site in Perry Barr.
The Guardian

Moderate drinking 'may not be good for you'
Drinking in moderation may not be good for you after all, scientists said yesterday. Previous research has suggested that light to moderate alcohol consumption protects the heart. One study suggested drinking the equivalent of up to two pints of ordinary strength beer or three glasses of wine can reduce the risk of a heart attack by a quarter. However, writing in today's issue of The Lancet , Dr Rod Jackson and colleagues from the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, suggest the apparent protective effect of alcohol may be largely due to poor-quality research.
The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Scotsman

Study cautions over new painkillers
There is no evidence that a new generation of pain-killing drugs are less harmful to the stomach lining than more traditional medicines, researchers have said. The class of drugs known as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors were developed to provide pain relief and be more "stomach friendly" than the frequently used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The researchers, led by Julia Hippisley-Cox from Nottingham University, pointed out that there was "considerable uncertainty" about the long-term risks associated with COX-2 inhibitors.
The Daily Mail

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