News from the National Academies en-us News from the National Academies Peter O'Donnell Jr. Gives $500,000 to Charles M. Vest President's Opportunity Fund The National Academy of Engineering announced today that Peter O'Donnell Jr. -- a long-time supporter of engineering, science, and math education -- has made a gift of $500,000 to the Charles M. Vest President's Opportunity Fund. "Peter O'Donnell's generous gift in tribute to former president Charles M. Vest will support NAE projects that will advance engineering solutions to many of society's greatest challenges," said National Academy of Engineering President C.D. (Dan) Mote Jr. Read More April 8, 2014 Social and Behavioral Domains in Electronic Health Records Electronic health records hold the potential to serve as essential tools for improving quality, increasing efficiency, and expanding access of the U.S. health system. They also provide crucial information to providers treating individual patients, as well as to researchers about the determinants of health and the effectiveness of treatment. Evidence of the how social and behavioral factors contribute to health, in particular, has grown over the last few decades. A new report from the Institute of Medicine identifies 17 "candidate domains" and measures of social determinants of health -- including education, dietary patterns, nicotine use, and exposure to violence -- that should be considered for inclusion in all EHRs. The committee that wrote the report expects to further evaluate the "candidate domains" and winnow the list to a smaller number of core domains in Phase 2 of its study.
April 8, 2014
NAS, NAE, IOM Partner With USAID on Global Development Lab The National Academy of Sciences, together with the National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine, will be among the cornerstone partners in USAID's newly launched Global Development Lab, established to explore cost-efficient, high-impact solutions to help people worldwide lift themselves out of extreme poverty. Read More
April 3, 2014
New Report Recommends Strategies for Reducing Fuel Consumption by Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles Expanding the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and regulations requiring the use of aerodynamic devices on trailers are two strategies for reducing fuel consumption by large trucks, buses, commercial vehicles, tractor-trailers, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, says a new National Research Council report. Additional strategies that do not involve changes to the engine or vehicle may also affect fuel consumption, including changes to fleet operations and logistics, innovations in infrastructure, traffic management, and driver training and other behavioral initiatives. The report's findings and recommendations will inform the development of what is known as the "Phase II Rule," issued jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Read More
April 3, 2014
Health Standards for Long Duration and Exploration Spaceflights NASA should use an ethics framework when deciding whether, and under what conditions, spaceflights that venture outside low Earth orbit or extend beyond 30 days are acceptable if they do not meet current health standards, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Exceptions to existing health standards should be granted by NASA on a mission-by-mission basis, and any exceptions should be rare and occur only in extenuating circumstances. The report provides an ethics framework based on six principles and related responsibilities to guide NASA's decision making for such missions. Read More
April 2, 2014
New Roundtable on Animal Science The National Research Council's Institute for Laboratory Animal Research has launched the Roundtable on Science and Welfare in Laboratory Animal Use to stimulate dialogue and promote the responsible use of animals in science. The new roundtable will provide a forum to discuss topics ranging from laboratory animal care to experimental design to regulatory issues. Read more
March 19, 2014
The Grainger Foundation Commits $3 Million for NAE Frontiers of Engineering Program The National Academy of Engineering announced today that The Grainger Foundation has committed $3 million for NAE's Frontiers of Engineering program. "Thanks to the generous support of The Grainger Foundation, Frontiers of Engineering symposium participants have the opportunity to join together and take on innovative ideas in the pursuit of ground-breaking research," said NAE President C.D. Mote Jr. Read More
March 19, 2014
Redesign of Planned NASA Space Telescope Would Increase Both Scientific Capabilities and Costs of Mission The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) was ranked the top-priority large space mission in the National Research Council's 2010 decadal survey for astronomy and astrophysics. In 2012, the National Reconnaissance Office gave NASA hardware for two telescopes that would increase the aperture and improve the resolution of the original WFIRST design, and enable the addition of a coronagraph, an instrument that would advance goals in the study of exoplanets.A new National Research Council report finds that the NRO telescopes would enhance the scientific power of the mission, but would also increase the technical risk and the associated costs. In addition, the committee that wrote the report found that the coronagraph design was too immature to evaluate properly and recommended that NASA expedite the design of the coronagraph and develop a cost, schedule, performance, and observing program so that the instrument's impact on the WFIRST mission can be determined. Read More
March 18, 2014
NAS Receives $1.5 Million Gift to Establish New Award in the Physical Sciences Research Corporation for Science Advancement has made a gift of $1.5 million to the National Academy of Sciences to establish the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery in honor of RCSA's past president John P. Schaefer. This new $100,000 prize will be given biennially to recognize an accomplishment or discovery in basic research within the past five years. The fields of science for each presentation will rotate from among chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, astronomy, physics, and materials science, with the inaugural award to be presented in 2015 for a recent discovery in chemistry, biochemistry, or biophysics. Read More
March 14, 2014
Two Definitions for Chronic Multisymptom Illness Should Guide VA Treatment and Research Two existing definitions of chronic multisymptom illness -- one by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and another from a study of Kansas Gulf War veterans -- should be used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to guide research and treatment of Gulf War veterans, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. In addition, the term "Gulf War illness" should replace "chronic multisymptom illness" to reflect the group in which the illness manifests and the group's distinctive experiences.
March 12, 2014
PNAS Announces Prize-Winning Papers The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has selected six papers from the more than 3,800 research articles published by the journal in 2013 to receive the Cozzarelli Prize, an award that recognizes scientific excellence and originality and outstanding contributions to the scientific disciplines represented by the National Academy of Sciences. The award was established in 2005 and named in 2007 to honor late PNAS Editor-in-Chief Nicholas R. Cozzarelli. Read More
March 6, 2014
Connecting Individual K-12 STEM Subjects Has Potential Advantages, Poses Challenges A new report from the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council examines current efforts to connect the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines in K-12 education, both in formal classroom settings and informal learning environments. A short video illustrating today's STEM education landscape and the potential benefits and challenges of integrated approaches accompanies the report. Read More
March 6, 2014
NAS, Royal Society Release Publication on Climate Change The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, the national science academy of the U.K., have released a new joint publication that explains the clear evidence that humans are causing the climate to change, and that addresses a variety of other key questions commonly asked about climate change science. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, written and reviewed by leading experts in both countries, lays out which aspects of climate change are well-understood and where there is still uncertainty and a need for more research. Read More
Feb. 27, 2014
National Academy of Sciences Elects Foreign Secretary and Councilors The National Academy of Sciences has elected John G. Hildebrand, Regents Professor of Neuroscience in the College of Science at the University of Arizona, Tucson, to serve as the Academy's foreign secretary, succeeding Michael T. Clegg. Hildebrand will be responsible for the international activities of the Academy during his four-year term beginning July 1, 2014.Councilors elected to three-year terms beginning July 1, 2014, are: Karen S. Cook, Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology, Stanford University; Nancy A. Moran, professor, department of integrative biology, University of Texas, Austin; Margaret M. Murnane, fellow, JILA, and professor of physics, University Colorado, Boulder; and Randy Schekman, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professor, department of molecular and cell biology, University of California, Berkeley. The new councilors succeed Carol A. Gross, Joyce Marcus, Douglas S. Massey, and Irving L. Weissman. Read more
Feb. 27, 2014
Former NAS Official Philip M. Smith Dies at Age 81 Philip M. Smith, who spent more than five decades working in science, technology, and public policy, including 13 years (1981-1994) as the executive officer of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, passed away on Feb. 16. As executive officer, Smith worked closely with NAS presidents Frank Press (whom Smith also worked for when Press served as White House science adviser) and Bruce Alberts as well as the presidents of the National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine to strengthen the ability of these institutions to deliver objective, evidence-based advice to the nation. Prior to joining NAS and the Research Council, Smith worked for three U.S. presidents -- Nixon, Ford, and Carter -- as associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Read More
Feb. 23, 2014
DOD Programs to Prevent Psychological Disorders in Military Members, Families Need to Be Based on Scientific Evidence to Ensure Effectiveness As the U.S. Department of Defense advances its efforts to evaluate and improve psychological health services for military members and their families, it should develop, track, and evaluate programs based on scientific evidence to ensure their effectiveness, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. DOD has implemented numerous resilience and prevention programs -- mostly focused on individual-level interventions -- that address various aspects of psychological health. While some of these programs have demonstrated effectiveness, many are not evidence-based and are evaluated infrequently. Read More
Feb. 20, 2014
Dzau Named Next President of the Institute of Medicine Victor J. Dzau, M.D., has been named to be the next president of the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences announced today. Currently chancellor for health affairs at Duke University, president and CEO for Duke University Health System, and James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, Dzau will succeed Harvey V. Fineberg, who has served as IOM's president for 12 years. Dzau's six-year term as president will begin July 1, 2014.In announcing Dzau's appointment, NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone said, "Victor Dzau is an internationally acclaimed leader and scientist whose work has improved health care in the United States and globally. Under his direction, the Institute of Medicine will continue to advance research and improve health by providing objective, evidence-based guidance on critical issues." Read More
Feb. 19, 2014
Long-Term Health Effects of Blasts U.S. soldiers exposed to blasts from improvised explosive devices and other types of weapons while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have an increased risk of developing adverse health outcomes over the long term, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and, in certain cases of traumatic brain injury, growth hormone deficiency, and persistent post-concussive symptoms including headaches, says a new report by the Institute of Medicine. The committee that wrote the report focused on health consequences experienced at least six months after a blast. Read More
Feb. 13, 2014
The Science of Science Communication II Not only the scientific complexity of topics such as climate change but also the public and political debates that surround many areas of science pose challenges for researchers trying to explain their findings clearly and effectively to the public. Read the summary of a three-day National Academy of Sciences colloquium held in September 2013 that brought together experts in social and cognitive psychology, political science, mass communication, cultural anthropology, business, and social networking to explore and share current research that can improve the communication of science to lay audiences.
Feb. 12, 2014
AAAS Annual Meeting C.D. (Dan) Mote Jr., the president of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as other Academies staff will participate in a variety of sessions at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, being held Feb. 13-17 in Chicago. Read more
Feb. 11, 2014
NAE Elects 67 Members and 11 Foreign Associates The National Academy of Engineering has elected 67 new members and 11 foreign associates, announced NAE President C.D. (Dan) Mote Jr. today. This brings the total U.S. membership to 2,250 and the number of foreign associates to 214. Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Read More
Feb. 6, 2014
New Report From U.S., Indonesian Science Academies Recommends Ways to Reduce Childbirth-Related Deaths in Indonesia A new report from the U.S. National Research Council and the Indonesian Academy of Sciences offers recommendations to reduce the number of deaths associated with childbirth in Indonesia. For example, Indonesia should seek to ensure that all childbirths happen in certified facilities with the capabilities to perform emergency obstetric and newborn care. The report, prepared by a joint committee of experts selected by the two academies, was slated to be discussed at a meeting today in Jakarta.
Jan. 30, 2014
John E. Porter to Receive Public Welfare Medal, Academy's Most Prestigious Award In recognition of decades of advocacy on behalf of scientific and medical research, the National Academy of Sciences is presenting its 2014 Public Welfare Medal to John E. Porter, former member of Congress, partner in the law firm Hogan Lovells, and chair of Research!America. Established in 1914, the medal is the Academy's most prestigious award and is presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good. Read More
Jan. 28, 2014