Today's news

January 23, 2007

Academics in state over Will Hutton 'race-row'
Will Hutton, the author and left-leaning polemicist, is at the centre of a race row after describing a respected Asian professor of economics as a “Third World intellectual”. The head of the Work Foundation made the comment about Lord Desai, the Labour peer, in an exchange of letters in Prospect magazine over the economic prospects of China. During an increasingly heated debate, Mr Hutton argued that China must reform or fail. Lord Desai retorted by saying that he had adopted an “old Whig” account of history. Mr Hutton replied: “Amartya Sen argues that many third world intellectuals are unable to get past the experience of colonialism to see the value of western institutions and values and the parallels they have with the best of their own traditions. You conform to Sen’s model.”
The Times

Hood faces questions over rejection of Oxford reform plans
The vice-chancellor of Oxford University has been called upon by the government to explain why his plans to modernise the governance of the ancient university were rejected by academics, it has emerged. Oxford's lecturers and researchers voted last month to reject plans proposed by the vice-chancellor, John Hood, which would have ended academic self-rule and handed financial decision-making to outside experts. Critics of the changes claimed this would have left dons hanging on to academic independence "by their fingernails". The government has now called on Dr Hood to justify the rejection of his plans by academics and propose what he will do next.
The Guardian

US neuroscientist rails against Oxford lab
A leading neuroscientist and Oxford graduate has stepped into the debate over animal testing in a highly critical paper that condemns the university's controversial laboratory. Writing for Animal Aid, the UK's largest animal rights group, Marius Maxwell, a neurosurgeon at a specialist spine centre in the US, said the minority of Oxford animal researchers were "tirelessly promoting their claimed achievements before the media". He said: "Many of my Oxford colleagues in world-class scientific laboratories, and in the humanities, are privately aghast at the ability of a small group of media-savvy vivisectionists to hold the debate hostage and thereby besmirch the international reputation of their university."
The Guardian

Dyslexia test launched to help parents transform young lives
A simple test for dyslexia which could transform the lives of thousands of school pupils was launched yesterday. Parents will be able to buy the Grammar and Phonology Screening system for as little as £50 and then use it to help diagnose their child. The test takes only ten minutes and screens for a range of language disorders, including dyslexia, by assessing grammatical and pre-reading skills. It has been developed by Professor Heather van der Lely, director of the Centre for Developmental Language Disorders and Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, after years of research.
The Scotsman

Skin-patch vaccine to tackle Alzheimer's
A vaccine for Alzheimer's disease could be delivered through a patch on the skin, researchers said yesterday. A team at the University of South Florida have found that the vaccine is effective at clearing brain-damaging plaques in tests on mice. The researchers said that a patch or cream could be used to deliver the vaccine, with less chance of a bad reaction in the patient. A previous trial using an injectable vaccine was stopped in 2002 after 6 per cent of patients developed brain inflammation.
The Scotsman, The Guardian

Stem cell hope to defeat diabetes
Cells passed from pregnant women to the foetus could hold the key to treating childhood diabetes, according to a new study. Scientists have discovered that stem cells are passed from mothers to unborn children with type 1 diabetes and may help repair the damage caused by immune attacks on insulin-producing cells thought responsible for the development of the disease. It was already known that mother and foetus exchange stem cells in the course of pregnancy, and that these may live on for many years, apparently tolerated by the child, in a phenomenon known as microchimerism.
The Daily Telegraph

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