News from the National Academies en-us News from the National Academies New Report Recommends Priorities for Next Decade of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research An initiative to better understand how melting ice sheets will contribute to sea-level rise, efforts to decode the genomes of organisms to understand evolutionary adaptations, and a next-generation cosmic microwave background experiment to address fundamental questions about the origin of the universe are the top research goals for Antarctic and Southern Ocean science recommended in a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report, which offers a strategic vision to guide the U.S. Antarctic Program at the National Science Foundation over the next 10 years, also recommends that NSF continue to support a core program of investigator-driven research across a broad range of disciplines and strengthen logistic and infrastructure support for the priority research areas. Read More Members of the committee will present the report's findings and take questions during a one-hour webinar beginning at 1 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 11. Please register at here. Aug. 11, 2015 Dr. Robert L. Ullrich Appointed as Chief of Research at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Robert L. Ullrich as Chief of Research at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) in Hiroshima, Japan. He succeeds Dr. Roy Shore, who retired from RERF in June 2015.Dr. Ullrich joined RERF as its Associate Chief of Research in November 2013. Prior to joining RERF, Dr. Ullrich was the John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Cancer Biology, Director of the Sealy Center for Cancer Biology, and Interim Director of the Cancer Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He is recognized internationally for his groundbreaking research on mechanisms and risk of cancer following exposure to ionizing radiation and for his scientific leadership of laboratory, academic, and medical programs. Dr. Ullrich received the Radiation Research Society’s Failla Award in 2012 for outstanding research contributions in radiation science. Read more
Aug. 10, 2015
Community-Based Flood Insurance Offers Potential Benefits, Faces Many Challenges Community-based flood insurance -- a single insurance policy that in theory would cover an entire community -- may create new opportunities to reduce flood losses and enhance the likelihood of communities paying more attention to flood risk mitigation, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This option for providing flood insurance, however, would not provide the sole solution for all of the nation's flood insurance challenges. The report discusses the pros and cons of this policy option, identifies challenges that need to be addressed if it were to be implemented, and describes scenarios, that depending on the underlying circumstances in a community, can help guide decisions about when community-based flood insurance would be beneficial over individual policies. Read More
July 24, 2015
New Report Presents Framework to Establish Standards for Psychosocial Interventions Used to Treat Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders A considerable gap exists in mental health and substance abuse treatments known as psychosocial interventions between what is known to be effective and those interventions that are commonly delivered, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Mental health and substance use disorders are a serious public health problem, affect approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, and often occur together. The report presents a framework for implementing evidence-based psychosocial interventions, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for individuals suffering from mental health and substance use disorders. Read More
July 14, 2015
Koshland Science Museum's Extreme Event Game Wins Gold Medal The Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences has been awarded a gold medal by the Serious Games Association for Extreme Event, a role-playing game developed in collaboration with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Resilient America project. The awards acknowledge outstanding games that provide superior interaction and training opportunities. Read More
July 14, 2015
Marcia K. McNutt Nominated to Be Next NAS President The Council of the National Academy of Sciences has approved the nomination of Marcia K. McNutt, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, for election as president of the Academy, to succeed Ralph J. Cicerone when his second term as NAS president ends on July 1, 2016. Read More
July 6, 2015
U.S. Survival Rates Around 6 Percent for Cardiac Arrests Occurring Outside of a Hospital Cardiac arrest strikes almost 600,000 people each year, killing the vast majority of those individuals, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Wide disparities of survival rates exist across the country, but benchmark communities demonstrate that saving more lives is possible. Although evidence indicates that bystander use of CPR and automated external defibrillators can significantly improve survival and outcomes from cardiac arrest, each year less than 3 percent of the U.S. population receives CPR training. To improve health outcomes, the report calls for enhancing the performance of EMS systems; improving systems of care within hospital settings; expanding research in cardiac arrest resuscitation; and educating and training the public on how to recognize cardiac arrest, contact emergency responders, administer CPR, and use automated external defibrillators.
June 30, 2015
Health Care Wait Times Differ Greatly Throughout U.S Wait times for health care appointments vary tremendously throughout the U.S., ranging from same day service to several months, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report calls for putting patients and families first and using "systems-based approaches" that are applied successfully in other industries to improve access to services. The study committee found that delays in access to health care have negative effects on health outcomes, patient satisfaction, health care utilization, and organizational reputation. Causes for delays include mismatched supply and demand of services, the current provider-focused approach to scheduling, outmoded workforce and care supply models, priority-based queues, care complexity, reimbursement complexity, and financial and geographic barriers.
June 29, 2015
New Report Examines Options for Tying Insurance Rates to Flood Risk for Low-Lying Structures Approximately 1 million low-lying structures in U.S. floodplains receive subsidized insurance rates that do not reflect the actual risk of flooding. New legislation requiring subsidies to be phased out and replaced by risk-based rates will result in substantial premium increases for most of these structures. A new report from the National Research Council found that current methods used by the National Flood Insurance Program don't fully capture the flood risk for low-lying structures, which are subject to more frequent flooding, longer durations and greater depths of flooding, and more damage from smaller flood events. The report offers alternative approaches for calculating risk-based rates for these structures, identifies critical data needs, and discusses the feasibility and cost of implementing the approaches. Read More
June 19, 2015
Analysis Used by Federal Agencies to Set Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards for U.S. Cars Was Generally of High Quality The analysis used by federal agencies to set standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for new U.S. light-duty vehicles -- passenger cars and light trucks -- from 2017 to 2025 was thorough and of high caliber overall, says a new report from the National Research Council. However, the agencies should re-examine certain issues -- such as consumer behavior and the effectiveness of certain technologies -- in an upcoming mid-term review. In addition, the report finds, evidence suggests that the standards will lead the nation's light-duty vehicle fleet to become lighter but not less safe. Read More
June 18, 2015
Pope Issues Encyclical on Climate Change Pope Francis issued a papal letter to the world's bishops reinforcing that human activity is causing climate change, and many developing nations are at particular risk. It calls for lifestyle and energy consumption changes to prevent the degradation of the Earth's ecosystem. The encyclical was informed by input from the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The full collection of National Research Council reports that address various climate change issues is available at, including: Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth Climate Change: Evidence and Causes Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises America's Climate Choices Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts Over Decades to Millennia
June 18, 2015
Strategic Investments in U.S. Inland Waterways Should Focus on Maintaining Locks and Facilities; User-Pays Funding Strategy Would Promote Economic Efficiency While the U.S. inland waterways system covers a vast geographic area, its freight traffic is highly concentrated, and the system needs a sustainable and well-executed plan for maintaining system reliability and performance to ensure that its resources are directed where they are most essential, says a new report from the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board. More targeted operations and maintenance (O&M) investments informed by an asset management approach would prioritize locks and facilities that are most in need of maintenance and for which the economic impacts of disruption would be highest. Read More
June 16, 2015
Advisory Group for Human Gene Editing Initiative Named The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine have formed an advisory group to counsel the NAS and NAM presidents on their new initiative on human gene editing. The role of the advisory group will be to identify and gather information and advice from the scientific and medical communities that will enable the academies to guide and inform researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and the public. Read More
June 15, 2015
New Report Says U.S. Freight Rail Regulations Outdated, Recommends Modernization Efforts While a 1980 reform law enabled the modernization and stabilization of the U.S. freight railroad industry, federal regulation has not kept pace with the industry's transformation and should be replaced with a system better-suited for today's freight rail system, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board. Current policies designed to protect rail shippers who lack transportation options from excessive rates are not working for shippers of most commodities, including grain. More appropriate, reliable, and usable procedures are needed to resolve these rate disputes without threatening the earnings railroads need to pay for their capital-intensive networks. Read More
June 10, 2015
Review of FAA's Certification Research Plan The FAA's research plan for certifying new technologies into the national airspace system lacks detail and does not demonstrate how integration of aircraft, ground systems, and procedures will occur, says a new National Research Council report.
June 8, 2015
New Report Finds Some Improvements From D.C. School Reform Efforts, But Gaps in Learning Opportunities, Academic Outcomes, and Oversight Persist While there have been some improvements in the public schools of the District of Columbia since a 2007 reform law, significant disparities remain in learning opportunities and academic progress across student groups and the city’s wards, says a new report from the National Research Council. The governance structure does not clearly address monitoring of learning conditions and outcomes for all public school students, nearly half of whom attend charter schools, and the city should create a comprehensive “data warehouse” to better track this information.
June 3, 2015
Role of Science and Technology Should Be Expanded Throughout Department of State Given the critical role science and technology (S&T) play in a range of foreign policy issues, the U.S. State Department should strengthen and continuously update its S&T capabilities in order to carry out its mission more effectively, says a new report from the National Research Council. A cultural change is needed throughout the department and the American embassies so that S&T competence will be considered equal in importance to language fluency and area expertise as a critical aspect of diplomacy. Read More
June 2, 2015
National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine Announce Initiative on Human Gene Editing The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine are launching a major initiative to guide decision making about controversial new research involving human gene editing. Human gene-editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, may lead to promising new treatments for disease. However, recent experiments to attempt to edit human genes also have raised important questions about the potential risks and ethical concerns of altering the human germline. Future advances are likely to raise new questions. The initiative will include an international summit this fall to convene researchers and other experts to explore the scientific, ethical, and policy issues associated with human gene-editing research. In addition, a multidisciplinary, international committee will conduct a comprehensive study of the scientific underpinnings and clinical, ethical, legal, and social implications of human gene editing. The committee will consider and recommend standards, guidelines, and practices governing the use of gene-editing technologies in biomedical research and medicine. An advisory group to steer the overall initiative will soon be announced. Read More
May 18, 2015
NAE Elects Foreign Secretary and Four Council Members The National Academy of Engineering has elected Ruth A. David, recently retired president and chief executive officer of Analytic Services Inc. (ANSER), to a four-year term as foreign secretary. David previously served as councillor from 2007 to 2013. Also elected to NAE's governing council for three-year terms are Anita K. Jones, university professor emerita at the University of Virginia; Richard H. Truly, retired vice admiral in the U.S. Navy and retired director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Wanda A. Austin, president and chief executive officer of The Aerospace Corporation; and John L. Anderson, president of Illinois Institute of Technology. All terms begin July 1.
May 11, 2015
FAA Should 'Reset Expectations' for Next Generation Air Transportation System The original vision for the Next Generation Air Transportation System is not what is being implemented today, and the Federal Aviation Administration should "reset expectations" for the program meant to modernize and transform the national airspace, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. The report recommends that FAA adopt a system architecture that supports decision making and provides a foundation for managing changes in technology and operations, and says it should incorporate cybersecurity and unmanned aircraft into its planning and design. Read More
May 1, 2015
Prime Minister of Japan Speaks at U.S. National Academy of Sciences NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a breakfast meeting this morning with several U.S. leaders in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. The meeting was co-hosted by Koji Omi, founder and chairman of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum, which holds a global conference of researchers, policymakers, and business leaders each year in Kyoto, Japan. Read More
April 30, 2015
Science Academies of G7 Nations Call for Action on Antibiotic Resistance, Tropical Diseases, and the Future of the Ocean Today the national science academies of the G7 countries issued three statements to their respective governments for discussion during the G7 summit to be held in Germany this June. The papers on antibiotic resistance, neglected and poverty-related diseases, and the future of the ocean were drawn up by the seven national academies under the aegis of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Read More
April 29, 2015
Phasing in Aquifer Storage and Recovery in the Everglades Could Help Answer Remaining Questions Although uncertainties about ecological impacts are too great to justify near-term, large-scale implementation of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) in the Everglades, ASR could be phased in to answer several important scientific questions and provide some early restoration benefits, says a report from the National Research Council. The report reviews a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District. Read More
April 29, 2015