Chinese biophysicist jailed for three years for experiment that led to live births of three genetically altered children. He Jiankui, previously an associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), has been sentenced to three years in prison and fined Rmb 3 million (£327,000) for illegal human embryo gene-editing using CRISPR-Cas9 technology.
The solution Brookings researchers propose? Government intervention. They argue that the federal government should create eight to 10 regional “growth centers” in the U.S. heartland. According to them, each area should receive $700 million in direct R&D funding each year for the next 10 years. In addition, each should get workforce development funding of $5 million per year, plus exemptions from certain regulations, and other benefits, for a total 10-year cost of about $100 billion.
Most U.S. research agencies have received healthy increases for 2020 in a spending bill that resolves a 3-month deadlock between Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Legislators released details today of how they plan to fund each federal agency for the 2020 fiscal year that ends on 30 September.
High levels of college and university R&D activity is not surprisingly clustered heavily in the East Coast -- ranging from the District of Columbia up to Boston -- and on the West Coast in California. The 10-year average HERD expenditures were the greatest in the New York-Northern New Jersey metro area ($3.7 billion), Boston ($2.8 billion), Baltimore ($2.8 billion), Los Angeles ($2.6 billion), and Houston ($2.0 billion).
White House Science Advisor Kelvin Droegemeier spoke with the Stanford community about efforts at the federal level to ensure integrity, security and equity in research. “The real focus is to develop policy recommendations that assure that we remain the world leader in science and technology,” he said. “The thing that makes this work so well is our American values, the values of being open and free to discover.”
As part of its ongoing effort to keep international research collaboration both open and secure, the National Science Foundation (NSF) today released a report by the independent science advisory group JASON titled “Fundamental Research Security.” NSF commissioned the report to enhance the agency’s understanding of the threats to basic research posed by foreign governments that have taken actions that violate the principles of scientific ethics and research integrity.
The Reagan Institute is calling on the US government to undertake a comprehensive effort to strengthen the national security industrial base, with recommendations ranging from creating an interagency “National Security Innovation Committee” for coordinating financial support to establishing a “STEM Corps” to give students free tuition if they enter the natsec work force.
The U.S. continues to be the global leader in total R&D expenditures, spending $483 billion (adjusted to 2010 purchasing parity dollars) in 2017 compared to China’s expenditures of $443 billion. However, according to a recent publication from the National Science Foundation, China surpassed the U.S. in expenditures on experimental development in 2014 and has since continued to increase its lead.
Across the U.S., the federal government provided 53 percent of R&D funding at institutions of higher education in FY 2018. Those institutions provided 26 percent of the funding themselves, and most of the remainder was provided by a mix of nonprofit organizations (7 percent), industry (6 percent), and state and local government (5 percent). The specific contributions varied from state to state, however, with some relying more on specific relationships to support R&D within the state.
“While we must effectively respond to China and others looking to do us harm, we must avoid inadvertently undermining the very policies which made us the leader in turning government funded R&D into cutting edge products. Unfortunately, the initial bureaucratic response is not reassuring on that score.”