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US news roundup: 16-22 July


This week: Congress stymies new funding agencies, Hubble telescope reboots and health agency overlap criticised

In depth: Academic research into deadly diseases was among the targets of hacking attempts that the US Department of Justice has attributed to four individuals it says acted from China with the backing of the Chinese state.

Full story: US says wave of Chinese cyberattacks targeted universities

Also this week from Research Professional News

US Academy of Sciences panel to promote research integrity—Group will develop policies for tackling systemic challenges


Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Headwinds in Congress for Biden’s proposed funding agencies

US president Joe Biden’s request to establish a new climate innovation funder, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate, took a blow last week as the Congressional committee drawing up government spending legislation for 2022 decided against allocating a budget for the proposed agency, arguing instead that the pre-existing Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy already funds climate-related innovation. The same committee approved $3 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health—another new funder proposed by Biden for breakthrough medical advances, based on the model of the military-focused Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—which was less than half of the $6.5bn requested by Biden.

Hubble telescope recovers from computer failure

The Hubble Space Telescope has recovered from a computer failure that saw the 31-year-old instrument stop collecting data for over a month. Problems were first experienced on 13 June, probably due to a problem with the telescope’s power unit, and Nasa scientists had to carefully reboot computer systems that returned to full working order on 17 July, sending the first images back two days later. Nasa administrator Bill Nelson said he was “proud of the Hubble team, from current members to Hubble alumni who stepped in to lend their support and expertise”. The telescope, first deployed in 1990, is expected to last for many more years.

Health research agencies ‘should check for overlap’

Government-funded health research agencies in the United States need to be more proactive in identifying areas of overlap in their research portfolios, according to a report from the global policy thinktank Rand Corporation. The report looked at federally funded research into health services and primary care by agencies under the US departments for health and veterans affairs. Discovery of overlaps in research portfolios by agencies were described as “sporadic” or “accidental”.