Abstracts: FDA, Yeast, Genetic Testing, and More

A roundup of science news from around the web — and around the world.

• President Trump nominated Scott Gottlieb to head the FDA last week. Gottlieb is a physician and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who served as an FDA deputy commissioner under George W. Bush. While some applaud Gottlieb’s robust resume, others worry about his conflicts of interest (as an adviser and investor in the pharmaceutical industry) and his advocacy for loosening some FDA regulations. (STAT)

A bill approved by a House committee last week would allow employers to impose penalties on employees who opt out of sharing their genetic information.

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• In a flurry of papers published in Science last Thursday, researchers announced that they’re one-third of the way to building a whole artificial yeast genome. They expect to have fully functional, completely synthetic yeast fermenting by year’s end. (Wired)

• Speaking of yeast, a highly drug-resistant strain that’s been spreading around the world since 2009 has now infected nearly three dozen Americans. (Washington Post)

• Last Wednesday, a House committee approved a bill that would allow employers to penalize employees who refuse to undergo genetic testing for workplace wellness programs. (Christian Science Monitor)

• EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Thursday that he doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is a primary driver of climate change. Science says otherwise. (NPR)

• An empanada, a flying saucer, a walnut…Saturn’s moon Pan has been likened to many odd objects since Cassini photographed it on Thursday. Scientists say the distinctive ridge along Pan’s equator is probably made of material the moon swiped from Saturn’s rings. (Science News)

• National Science Foundation surveys show that the fraction of basic research funded by the U.S. government has reached a record low since the end of WWII. The reason is twofold: a plateau of cashflow from the feds and a recent rise in corporate sponsorship. (Science)

• According to an Elsevier report, female scientists have racked up more publications and citations this decade than in the late 90s. But women are still publishing fewer articles than men, and they’re much less likely to be listed as first or final authors on papers. Plus, there are wide disparities in gender parity across disciplines and across the globe. (Nature)

• The prodigal probe returns. NASA used a newfangled radar technique to track down India’s first lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, which went missing back in 2009. (Huffington Post)

• And finally, data from the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have given geoscientists unprecedented views of large swaths of seafloor in the Indian Ocean. (New York Times)

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