Today's news

April 12, 2006

Oxford University loses its battle for citywide injunction
Oxford University yesterday lost a battle to have its injunction against animal rights activists extended across the whole city. However, the activists, who are protesting against the building of a new facility that will house some animals for testing, will not be allowed to demonstrate in areas where students' exams are taking place. The current injunction forbids protesters from having loud demonstrations outside the laboratory site, and limits them to one protest on Thursdays. Charles Flint, the university's QC, had argued that the extension of the exclusion zone was necessary as university premises were spread throughout the city and the whole of the university was the target of intimidation and harassment.
The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times

Panel to expose fraudulent medical research
A new panel set up to combat medical research fraud has called on universities and the NHS to view such misconduct as seriously as financial fraud. The UK Panel for Research Integrity in Health and Biomedical Sciences, launched today, will be funded for three years by universities, the NHS and such bodies as Hefce and the Medical Research Council. Michael Farthing, medicine pro-vice chancellor at the University of London, said the panel would not "police or investigate" claims of research misconduct but, following a US model, would encourage institutions to be self-regulating. The panel will also support whistleblowers alleging research fraud.
The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Apr 14)

Academy sponsorship: universities join the class
Brunel University was set to become the first higher education institution to open an academy, on its west London campus, until it dropped its plans last month. However, five other universities are considering sponsoring academies in order to improve links with their local communities. The plans by the University of Liverpool to build a 1,750-pupil academy, to replace two comprehensives in Breckfield and Anfield, are at the most advanced stage. The university has teamed up with the educational publisher Granada Learning and Stanley Fink, the chief executive of the investment firm the Man Group, to build the North Liverpool academy.
The Guardian

Jumpy eggs caught on camera
After two years of work, with a purpose-built steel machine wired up to high-speed cameras, microphones and electronic sensors, a team of Japanese researchers has finally proved that a hard-boiled egg can jump. All it takes, according to Yutaka Shimomura and colleagues of Keio University, is a good spin. A spinning egg will spontaneously rise up from lying on its side to standing on its end. Shimomura, along with physicists at the University of Cambridge, had previously worked out why this is so, and predicted that the forces involved could also make an egg leap a tiny bit into the air.
Nature, The Daily Telegraph

High cholesterol linked to prostate cancer
High cholesterol levels have been linked to prostate cancer for the first time by a new study. The findings could help explain why cholesterol-cutting drugs called statins appear to decrease the risk of prostate cancer, says epidemiologist Francesca Bravi from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy. Michael Freeman of the Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, US, notes the results are supported by earlier experiments in rodents. He says prostate cancer strikes about one in six US men.
New Scientist

Disillusioned researchers may be led astray
A perception that rewards are not being doled out fairly may be fuelling a culture of professional misbehaviour by researchers at top US research universities. Last year a survey by sociologist Brian Martinson of HealthPartners Research Foundation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and colleagues produced evidence suggesting that scientific integrity was threatened by a widespread culture of minor misdemeanours, not just a few cases of outright fraud.
New Scientist

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