News at a Glance: Apologies for ‘Conversion Therapies’, Long Covid, and a Narrowing Racial Gap in NIH Grants | Science


Groups regret views on ‘homosexuality’

This month, two scientific societies disavowed their past involvement in practices and public statements that viewed “homosexuality” as a treatable disorder – a misguided notion that has harmed LGBTQI+ people. Decades ago, some members and past presidents of the Association for Cognitive Behavioral Therapies helped create, study, and use “conversion therapies” for sexual and gender minorities. In a press release, the group apologized for the involvement of its members in these practices. and accepted responsibility for the damage caused. Conversion therapy – in which practitioners attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity – has been shown to be ineffective and is associated with an increased risk of suicide attempts. The association has encouraged its members to denounce these practices in American states that have not yet banned them. And for this year’s Pride Month, in June, the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) officially disavowed and apologized for a 1964 report which incorrectly concluded that homosexuality was a “treatable disease”. President of NYAM called the long delay in releasing the disavowal “shameful”.


The racial gap in NIH funding is narrowing

The success rate of black scientists seeking research grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has risen sharply over the past two years, narrowing but not eliminating the gap with white scientists , agency officials said last week. In fiscal year 2021, a black applicant’s chance of receiving at least one new R01, the standard NIH research grant, was 24.4%, or 2.2 percentage points less than for a black applicant. white candidate. This compares to a disparity of about 7 to 9 percentage points per year from 2013 to 2019. A 2011 study identifying the funding gap led the NIH to expand training and mentorship to black researchers; advocates also urged the agency to fund applications from black scientists who narrowly miss the quality threshold for funding. Another new effort could help close the gap further: This month, several NIH institutes launched an R01 program for new investigators from diverse backgrounds, limited to research in neuroscience, addiction, and mental health. The NIH defines “diverse” broadly, to include, for example, scientists with disabilities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Agency officials noted that NIH cannot make funding decisions based on race, gender, or ethnicity.


Long Covid becomes less likely

According to a large epidemiological study, people were half as likely to develop Long Covid after being infected with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 as the previous Delta variant. Researchers at King’s College London analyzed data from the COVID Symptom Study, a longitudinal study in which initially healthy participants voluntarily record symptoms and COVID-19 test results on a smartphone app. Those who showed symptoms 4 weeks or more after a positive polymerase chain reaction test for the virus, even if initially asymptomatic, were classified as having Long Covid. Among 41,361 vaccinees infected between June and November 2021, when Delta was predominant, 10.8% reported symptoms of Long Covid, such as fatigue, shortness of breath or brain fog, the group reported in The Lancet Last week. Of 56,003 people infected between late December 2021 and early March, when Omicron was predominant, 4.5% reported symptoms more than a month later. But Omicron’s push in the UK has been so large, peaking in late March at around 350,000 symptomatic cases a day, that it has helped drive large numbers of new Long Covid cases despite the reduction in risk.

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We don’t want to get to a point where we say, based on your brain pattern, that you’re not qualified for a job.

  • Neuroethicist Laura Cabrera
  • in STATon the new reference grids describing the development of the brain, published in Naturecould fuel discrimination if misused.

United States supports shooting for the very young

US regulators have given a long-awaited boost to begin vaccinating nearly 20 million of the nation’s youngest children against COVID-19. On June 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all children 6 months to 5 years old be vaccinated; a day earlier, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acted on a June 15 unanimous recommendation from outside advisers and authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for preschoolers. The Children’s Moderna vaccine requires two doses; the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, three. The FDA has authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children 6 months to 4 years old; it was already allowed for 5 year olds. The agency allowed Moderna to be filmed for children 6 months to 17 years old. CDC data through April lists COVID-19 as the fifth leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 and the fourth leading cause among infants. The United States will become the first country to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children as young as 6 months old, according to a statement from the White House.


Teams take up the challenges of cancer

Four multi-agency teams will each receive $25 million over 5 years to explore thorny cancer questions after their research proposals were selected for funding by Cancer Grand Challenges, a UK-US collaboration. United. The charity Cancer Research UK launched a similar scheme with awards in 2017 and 2019, then teamed up with the US National Cancer Institute for the latest round, announced last week. Multidisciplinary teams led by US and European researchers will study the use of immune cells to treat solid tumors in children; the biology of DNA found outside the chromosomes of a cancer cell; how cells that develop mutations become cancerous; and cachexia, a muscle atrophy common in cancer patients.


Ex-teacher gets one year in prison

Simon Ang, a former engineering professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, was sentenced last week to 366 days in prison for lying to the FBI about his inventor status. Ang is one of two dozen academic scientists who have been prosecuted under the government’s 3-year-old China Initiative. In January, he pleaded guilty to the felony charge after the US government agreed to drop allegations that he had hidden ties to China on federal grant applications. His sentence, which could be shortened, begins on July 20. Ang was also fined $5,500.

On point

Images of planets on agar
Tiny cells meet big planets: Sarah Adkins-Jablonsky created an image of the solar system using ink and growing different colored strains of soil bacteria, including the producer of antibiotics Streptomyces, on a growth medium. The title, Ode to Kate Rubins, pays tribute to a biologist who was the first astronaut to sequence DNA in space. The work was displayed last week at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MICROBIOLOGY/SARAH ADKINS-JABLONSKY

Web conferencing stimulates novelty

Research teams produced more innovative ideas even as they spread across countries and institutions, and progress can be boosted by online collaboration platforms such as Zoom, a study has found. The share of all geographically dispersed teams has been growing for decades. But until 2010 analysts saw a decline in disruptive new ideas from dispersed researchers, likely because they were pursuing more incremental research and their dispersion caused members to “silo” and undermined their creativity. But the slide has reversed since Slack, Microsoft Teams and other platforms debuted over the past decaderesearchers at the University of Oxford report in a recent working paper that analyzes the journal articles of more than 10 million research teams in 11 academic fields from 1961 to 2020. (Teams that changed members have were counted more than once.) Although in-person discussions remain important for scientific creativity, the adoption of online tools has supplemented these interactions, the authors say, and the COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated this. tendency.


Alzheimer’s amyloid drug fails

A decade-long clinical trial aimed at preventing cognitive decline in a Colombian family genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease has ended in failure, its sponsor Roche announced last week. The results are another blow to hopes that drugs that remove the sticky amyloid beta protein from the brain before symptoms appear could slow the disease. The trial tested a drug called crenezumab, which like many other amyloid-targeting antibodies has already shown no benefit in large trials in people with mild early signs of the disease. The researchers recruited 252 extended family members, two-thirds of whom have a mutation, in a gene called PSEN1which typically causes people to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in their mid-40s. Crenezumab did not prevent or slow cognitive decline compared to a placebo, announces Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, in a press release dated June 15.


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