Today's news

November 6, 2006

South Korean stem cell scientist sues for old job
Disgraced South Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who was fired from one of the country's top universities after his team falsified landmark papers, is suing to get his old job back, his lawyer said today. Hwang, who was sacked by Seoul National University in March and is on trial in a criminal fraud case related to his work, said in a court filing he was unfairly dismissed due to distorted evidence, his lawyer, Lee Geon-haeng, said by telephone. An investigation panel at the university said in a report in January that Hwang's team knowingly fabricated key data in two groundbreaking papers on embryonic stem cells that have since been retracted by the journal Science , which published them.
The Scotsman

Novartis to open research facility in China
Novartis is to become one of the first global pharmaceuticals companies to conduct basic scientific research in China, by investing $100 million (£53 million) in a new drug discovery facility in Shanghai. The research facility, which will have about 400 scientists by 2008, will focus initially on discovering medicines to treat cancers caused by infections, which make up a considerable proportion of the cancer cases diagnosed in China. Mark Fishman, the former Harvard academic who is head of research at Novartis, said there was little cost advantage to the decision. The company will rely initially on returning scientists and expects salaries of talented local scientists to rise soon.
The Financial Times

NUT attacks science pay plan
Proposals by peers to pay science teachers more than those in other subjects were criticised yesterday by the National Union of Teachers. In a report, the Lords science and technology committee urged "significantly higher" salaries for physics and chemistry teachers to tackle the shortage of bright graduates entering the field.
The Daily Telegraph

The computer that could transform diabetics' lives
An artificial pancreas that continuously monitors blood sugar levels and provides insulin automatically could free children with diabetes from their reliance on blood tests and injections. The new device uses a computer to monitor the patient’s blood sugar levels and administers insulin when levels rise too high. By delivering the correct amount of insulin as soon as it is needed, it should reduce long-term complications such as blindness, loss of sensation and ulceration of the feet, which can lead to amputation. Clinical trials will start in January. Scientists at Cambridge University, led by Roman Hovorka at the Department of Paediatrics, will use monitors that measure blood glucose.
The Times

Alien ladybirds 'spell disaster' for British species
The threat from one of Britain's most damaging invasive species has taken a giant step forward. Harlequin ladybirds, voracious insects from Asia which seriously threaten Britain's ladybird species, and arrived in the UK two years ago, have begun forming big swarms for the first time, showing how their population has started to explode. Thousands of the insects have come together in clouds on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, smothering vegetation and covering outside walls and window frames. The arrival of the harlequin, which has killed many insects in the US and other countries where it was mistakenly introduced as a pest control, was labelled a "disaster" by Britain's principal ladybird expert, Michael Majerus, of the genetics department at Cambridge University.
The Independent

Zapping sleepers’ brains boosts memory
Applying a gentle electric current to the brain during sleep can significantly boost memory, researchers report. A small new study showed that half an hour of this brain stimulation improved students’ performance at a verbal memory task by about 8 per cent. The approach enhances memory by creating a form of electrical current in the brain seen in deep sleep, the researchers suggest. Jan Born at the University of Luebeck in Germany, and colleagues, recruited 13 healthy medical students for the study and gave them a list of word associations, such as “bird” and “air”, to learn late in the evening. Afterwards, researchers placed two electrodes on the forehead and one behind each ear of the volunteers and let them sleep.
New Scientist

Royal Society has never attempted to prevent funding
The Financial Times

NUS National President claims that students would march to raise tuition fees.
The Times

From the weekend's papers:


  • Oxford dons challenge plans to reform the university. The Times
  • Edinburgh is the best place to live in the whole of the UK, according to a poll of students. The Scotsman


  • Low IQs are Africa's curse, says London School of Economics lecturer. The Observer
  • Dons fight plan for businessmen to run Oxford. The Observer

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