This week: university funding, energy innovation and the origins of the pandemic
In depth: The US National Institutes of Health, a federal agency that funds almost 50,000 biomedical grants at any given time, has updated its list of “bold predictions” for the fields within its remit as part of a new strategic plan for the next five years.
Here is the rest of the US news this week…
Billions more in pandemic funding for universities
The Department of Education has announced $3.2 billion in extra emergency grants to help students at more than 1,800 institutions recovering from the pandemic. The money, which comes under the government’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, includes $1.6 billion to historically black colleges and universities, $143 million to tribally controlled institutions, and $1.19bn to minority-serving institutions. Another $225m will support public and non-profit institutions, and especially their “students with the greatest unmet needs related to the pandemic”.
Bill seeks to boost innovation under Department of Energy
Lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill to create a nonprofit foundation for the Department of Energy that would be tasked with helping to commercialise nationally funded research into energy technologies. The bill also aims to support private-public partnerships, including with universities, to advance the DoE’s mission. According to supporter Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chair of the House science committee, the bill will “supplement [department]-supported R&D with private sector funding”, help the exchange of best practices and boost the US energy workforce.
Republicans want wider congressional probe into Covid origins
Republicans on the House science committee have written to their Democratic counterparts, calling for more Congressional probing into the origins of the virus that causes Covid-19. A subcommittee held a hearing on the topic already, but the Republicans want more hearings with other committees. “All available evidence and theories must be considered fairly, and the process must be transparent, free of conflicts of interest and protected from political interference,” they said.