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Marcia McNutt Takes Office as 22nd NAS President

June 30, 2016

On July 1, Marcia K. McNutt begins a six-year term as the 22nd president of the National Academy of Sciences. She succeeds Ralph J. Cicerone, who served two terms as president, the maximum allowed by the Academy's bylaws. "The Academy will be in good hands for years to come," said Cicerone. "Marcia McNutt is an energetic, thoughtful, and respected leader. She will be a strong advocate for the advancement of science and for its application for public benefit." McNutt Bio

New Educational Modules Aim to Help Professional-School Students Understand and Assess Scientific Evidence

June 30, 2016

A series of educational modules has been developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to help students in professional schools -- law, public policy, medicine, journalism, and business -- understand science and its role in decision making. The nine sample modules, which explore topics such as shale gas development ("fracking"), vaccines, forensic pattern evidence, and scientific modeling, are intended for use by professional-school faculty who wish to help their students understand basic scientific principles and approaches and assess the evidence underlying scientific claims. Read More

New Commission Needed to Examine Regulation of Human Subjects Research

June 29, 2016

A new Academies report that examines the regulations governing federally funded research recommends that Congress authorize and the president appoint an independent, national commission to examine and update the ethical, legal, and institutional frameworks governing research involving human subjects. The commission should make recommendations for how the ethical principles governing human subjects research should be applied to unresolved questions and new research contexts. In addition, the executive branch should withdraw the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the "Common Rule" (formally known as the Federal Policy for Protection of Human Subjects), the report says. The regulatory structure protecting human research subjects should not be revised until the national commission has issued its recommendations and the research community, patient groups, and the public have had a chance to consider and react to them. Read More

Assessing Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Data

June 21, 2016

A new Academies report serves as starting point for moving toward comparable, more unified data collection, analysis, and reporting practices related to obesity status in U.S. populations to inform crucial public health policy and program planning decisions. The report evaluates the strengths and weaknesses with existing approaches to collecting obesity data, creating estimates of obesity prevalence, and assessing trends and recommends ways to systematically assess obesity-related reports, given these strengths and weaknesses.

Integration of Military and Civilian Trauma Care Systems Needed

June 17, 2016

Across the current military and civilian trauma care systems, the quality of trauma care varies greatly depending on when and where an individual is injured, and up to 20 percent of U.S. trauma deaths could be prevented with better care, says a new Academies report. Mass casualty incidents and increasing foreign and domestic threats to homeland security lend urgency to the translation of wartime lessons to civilian trauma systems. The White House should lead the integration of trauma care to establish a national system and set an aim to achieve zero preventable deaths after injury. Read More

Academies Gulf Research Program and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Create a $10 Million Grants Program to Build Healthy, Resilient Coastal Communities

June 16, 2016

The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has joined with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to establish a $10 million grants program to fund projects that enhance the science and practice of coastal community resilience in the Gulf of Mexico region. These projects will explore the interrelated health, social, environmental, and economic impacts of disasters and other environmental stressors and inform strategies to address these challenges in Gulf communities. Read More

Gene-Drive Modified Organisms Not Ready to Be Released Into Environment

June 8, 2016

The emerging science of gene drives has the potential to address environmental and public health challenges, but gene-drive modified organisms are not ready to be released into the environment and require more research in laboratories and highly controlled field trials, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. To navigate the uncertainty posed by this fast-moving field of study and make informed decisions about the development and potential application of gene-drive modified organisms, the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report recommended a collaborative, multidisciplinary, and cautionary approach to research on and governance of gene drive technologies. Read More

Easier Access, More Affordable Options for Hearing Health Care Needed

June 2, 2016

Hearing loss is a significant public health concern, and efforts should be made to provide adults with easier access to and more affordable options for hearing health care, especially for those in underserved and vulnerable populations, says a new Academies report. The committee that carried out the study and wrote the report called for changes in the cost of hearing health care and expanded treatment options given the number of Americans who have hearing loss and the high cost of hearing health care. It recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration remove the regulation requiring adults to have a medical evaluation or sign an evaluation waiver to purchase a hearing aid, as well as establish a new category of over-the-counter, wearable hearing devices.

Strengthening and Sustaining Strong Safety Culture for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Requires Collective Action Among Industry and Regulators

May 25, 2016

To transform the offshore oil and gas industry's safety culture, operators, contractors, subcontractors, associations representing these groups, and federal regulators should collaborate to foster safety throughout all levels of the industry and confront challenges collectively, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The industry also should implement the recommendation of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling that called for an independent organization dedicated to safety and environmental protection, with no advocacy role. Read More

Reducing Carbon Emissions from Commercial Aircraft

May 24, 2016

Commercial aviation, like every means of mass transportation, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Although CO2 emissions from aviation make up only 2 percent to 2.5 percent of total global annual CO2 emissions, research on reducing these emissions is needed to mitigate the contribution that commercial aviation makes to climate change, given the high demand for commercial air transportation and its expected growth. A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends a national research agenda for developing propulsion and energy system technologies that could reduce CO2 emissions from global civil aviation and that could be introduced into service during the next 10 to 30 years. The research agenda, which is intended to guide government, industry, and academic research, places the highest priority on four approaches: advances in aircraft-propulsion integration, improvements in gas turbine engines, development of turboelectric propulsion systems, and advances in sustainable alternative jet fuels.

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