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Statement on Harmful Consequences of Separating Families at the U.S. Border

WED, 20 JUNE 2018 12:00 EST

We urge the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to immediately stop separating migrant children from their families, based on the body of scientific evidence that underscores the potential for lifelong, harmful consequences for these children and based on human rights considerations.Reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine contain an extensive body of evidence on the factors that affect the welfare of children – evidence that points to the danger of current immigration enforcement actions that separate children from their parents. Research indicates that these family separations jeopardize the short- and long-term health and well-being of the children involved. In addition, the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academies, which has a long history of addressing issues at the intersection of human rights, science, and health, stresses that the practice of separating parents from their children at the border is inconsistent with U.S. obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Parents’ impact on their children’s well-being may never be greater than during the earliest years of life, when a child’s brain is developing rapidly and when nearly all of her or his experiences are shaped by parents and the family environment (NASEM, 2016, p. 1). Young children who are separated from their primary caregivers may potentially suffer mental health disorders and other adverse outcomes over the course of their lives (NASEM, 2016, p. 21-22). Child development involves complex interactions among genetic, biological, psychological, and social processes (NRC and IOM, 2009, p. 74), and a disruption in any of these – such as family disruption – hinders healthy development and increases the risk for future disorders (NRC and IOM, 2009, p.102-104). Young children are capable of deep and lasting sadness, grief, and disorganization in response to trauma and loss (NRC and IOM, 2000, p. 387). Indeed, most mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders have their roots in childhood and adolescence (NRC and IOM, 2009, p. 1), and childhood trauma has emerged as a strong risk factor for later suicidal behavior (IOM, 2002, p. 3). Decades of research have demonstrated that the parent-child relationship and the family environment are at the foundation of children’s well-being and healthy development. We call upon the Department of Homeland Security to stop family separations immediately based on this evidence.Marcia McNuttPresident, National Academy of SciencesC. D. Mote, Jr.President, National Academy of EngineeringVictor J. DzauPresident, National Academy of MedicineParenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8 (2016)Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities (2009)Psychosocial Concepts in Humanitarian Work with Children: A Review of the Concepts and Related Literature (2003)Reducing Suicide: A National Imperative (2002)Early Childhood Development and Learning: New Knowledge for Policy (2001)From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development (2000) 

If Misused, Synthetic Biology Could Expand the Possibility of Creating New Weapons; DOD Should Continue to Monitor Advances in the Field, New Report Says

TUE, 19 JUNE 2018 11:00 EST

Synthetic biology expands the possibilities for creating new weapons — including making existing bacteria and viruses more harmful — while decreasing the time required to engineer such organisms, concludes a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Although some malicious applications of synthetic biology may not seem plausible right now, they could become achievable with future advances. Read More

National Academies' Gulf Research Program Awards Over $287,000 to Assist Scientific Research Impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

WED, 13 JUNE 2018 11:00 EST

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine today announced 11 grant awards totaling $287,565 to assist in the recovery of Gulf of Mexico region scientific research efforts impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These awards are the result of the second of two fast-track grant cycles for Scientific Research Disaster Recovery Grants announced last November to help with repair, replacement, or recovery of equipment, data, or other research materials damaged or lost as a result of the hurricanes. Read More

To Prevent Sexual Harassment, Academic Institutions Should Go Beyond Legal Compliance to Promote a Change in Culture

TUE, 12 JUNE 2018 11:00 EST

A systemwide change to the culture and climate in higher education is needed to prevent and effectively respond to sexual harassment, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. There is no evidence that current policies, procedures, and approaches – which often focus on symbolic compliance with the law and on avoiding liability -- have resulted in a significant reduction in sexual harassment. Read More

FAA Should Change Its Safety Risk Assessment Approach for Drones to Effectively Integrate Them Into the Nation's Airspace

MON, 11 JUNE 2018 11:00 EST

Introducing drone operations into the nation's airspace can provide substantial benefits to society, such as preventing derailments, inspecting cell phone towers, delivering medical devices to patients in cardiac distress, and assisting firefighters, says a new congressionally mandated report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. However, an overly conservative approach to safety risk assessments at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which the report says tends to overestimate the severity and likelihood of risks from many types of drone operations, can be a significant barrier to introduction and development of this emerging and rapidly changing technology. Read More

National Academies Launch 'New Voices' Project to Engage Next-Generation Leaders in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

FRI, 08 JUNE 2018 16:00 EST

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are launching the “New Voices in Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine” initiative to identify outstanding early-career science, engineering, and medicine (SEM) leaders. They will engage in communicating the evidence base for addressing national and global challenges to provide new perspectives on issues of importance to the community represented by the National Academies. They will also help identify ways to expand the diversity of expertise that is brought to all of the Academies' convening and advisory activities. Learn More

Public Transit Agencies Should Not Have to Disclose Safety Planning Records in Court, Similar to Laws for State Highway Agencies and Passenger Railroads, Says New Report

WED, 30 MAY 2018 11:00 EST

To enable public transit agencies to engage in more rigorous and effective safety planning, their safety planning records should not be admissible as evidence in civil litigation, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. State highway agencies and commuter railroads have been granted such "evidentiary protections," and the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report found no compelling reason to advise Congress against current practice by treating transit agencies differently. Read More

Strengthening Graduate STEM Education

TUE, 29 MAY 2018 13:30 EST

A new report from the National Academies recommends substantial changes to U.S. graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in order to meet the evolving needs of students, the scientific enterprise, and the nation. The report describes an ideal graduate education and identifies the core competencies that Ph.D. and master's students should acquire. Achieving this vision will require the graduate education system, whose incentive system is now heavily weighted toward rewarding faculty primarily for research output, to increase the value it places on best practices of teaching and mentorship. Read More

Program Committee Named for the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing

TUE, 29 MAY 2018 09:00 EST

An international, multidisciplinary program committee has been appointed to plan the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, which will take place Nov. 27-29 in Hong Kong. The three-day summit -- to be held in the Lee Shau Kee Lecture Centre at the University of Hong Kong -- will be co-hosted by the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, the Royal Society of London, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine. Read More

Statement by the Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine on Preventing Sexual Harassment

TUE, 22 MAY 2018 12:00 EST

Sexual harassment in science, engineering, and medicine diminishes the integrity of the U.S. research enterprise. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine take this issue very seriously. We have long been committed to providing a safe workplace free of harassment and intimidation, and our sexual harassment policy applies to anyone who is involved in the work of the Academies, including staff, volunteers, and members of our three Academies. We want to be sure that we are doing everything possible to prevent sexual harassment, to instill a culture of inclusion and respect, and to reinforce that harassment is not tolerated. The National Academies’ Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine has a long history of advocating for increased participation and well-being of women in these disciplines, and in 2016, the committee initiated a study on sexual harassment in academia. We are pleased that the resulting report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, will be released next month. The report’s evidence-based recommendations are intended to be a guide for academic institutions and professional societies, and will be used to inform a re-examination of our policies and procedures as well.We recognize that the scientific, engineering, and medical communities and the wider public place much trust in us to advise the nation on a wide range of matters, and we must always ensure that we are deserving of that trust. As a result, the leadership Councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine have begun a dialogue about the standards of professional conduct for membership in our three Academies. Marcia McNuttPresident, National Academy of SciencesC. D. Mote, Jr.President, National Academy of EngineeringVictor J. DzauPresident, National Academy of Medicine

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