Today's news

April 5, 2006

New science body 'wrong mechanism'
The body representing Europe's universities has unanimously decided to oppose a new EU scientific research institution which risks "fragmenting" the wider university system. The European University Association said the European Commission's controversial proposal for a "European Institute of Technology" was the "wrong mechanism" for improving top level research. Professor Georg Winckler, EUA President, said the EU should focus instead on funding the continent's existing universities.
The Financial Times

Animal suffering in experiments should be revealed, say advisers
Researchers who use animals in their work will have to report more details of the pain and suffering their experiments cause, under proposals by scientists on the government's most senior advisory group on vivisection. The new rules are an attempt to reveal the true impact of scientific experiments on more than 3 million animals used in experiments every year. "It illustrates the willingness of the scientists to be very open about what is happening to animals in a laboratory - we want to tell the public exactly what happens," said Dominic Wells, a professor of gene transfer at Imperial College London.
The Guardian, Nature

Stirling launches degree in conflict resolution
The University of Stirling is seeking to promote world peace with a new masters degree that aims to produce future leaders who are "able to understand the past, intervene in the present and shape a more just, fair and equitable world". The MSc in international conflict and cooperation, which launches in the autumn, will be a practical course to equip present and future policymakers, professionals, politicians and academics with the skills needed for conflict prevention, management and resolution. Students will debate the nature of conflict and cooperation among nations, individuals, religions and cultures.
The Guardian

It's vice for some
University students and parents clobbered by fees of £3,000 a year to be taught what was free before Labour came in should look away now. The cash has undoubtedly helped finance a welcome expansion in higher education, enabling more kids to receive an education once the preserve of a middle-class elite. But it is also funding a bonanza for university vice-chancellors who stuffed the deep pockets of their gowns with a 25 per cent pay rise over the past three years. Thirty-three people who run universities are now paid more than the Prime Minister, with 18 on upwards of £200,000 a year.
The Daily Mirror, The Times Higher Higher Education Supplement (Mar 10)

Premature babies can feel pain, scans show
Premature babies experience real pain rather than just displaying reflex reactions, scientists said yesterday. Brain scans carried out on premature babies during blood tests showed surges of blood and oxygen in the sensory areas of their brains - demonstrating that pain was being processed. Professor Maria Fitzgerald, from the department of anatomy and developmental biology at University College London, who led the team, said: "We have shown for the first time that the information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies.
The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman

Cutting calories may boost your lifespan
People who substantially cut their calorie intake develop some of the traits associated with longevity discovered in animal tests, a new study reveals. Cutting calories reduced body temperature and levels of the metabolism hormone insulin, as well as decreasing DNA damage, showed the study. But follow-up tests are necessary to find out if these biological effects, which occurred relatively quickly, last for more than a few months. Scientists hoping to understand the biological mechanisms that control ageing have increasingly given attention to the idea that reducing food intake can extend life.
New Scientist, The Scotsman

Breath test for breast cancer
Women could soon be able to test for breast cancer by using a breathalyser, US scientists claim. They would be able to buy a device over the counter which tests breath for the presence of metabolites, which are associated with the disease. The device works by using switchable surface technology. It attracts cells, which indicate the presence of breast cancer, into tiny oil and water-filled pockets. The user is then alerted to the presence of cancerous cells by a reading on the breathalyser. The device is being developed by a team of scientists from Michigan University who won a Breast Cancer Research Program Idea award.
The Daily Mail

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