Science gets a leg up [finally] from Congress

February 12, 2009

Congress Finalizes Massive Boost in Science Funding

Late last night Congress released the first high-level details on the final agreement for the American Recovery and Reinvestment package. (For background, this legislation is essentially a massive funding plan intended to help jump start the American economy during the current fiscal year (FY 2009).) The final legislation reportedly contains a massive boost for several key scientific agencies, including NSF +$3 billion (remember that NSF’s total funding for FY09 is around $6 billion and change), NIST +$580 million and Department of Energy Office of Science +$1.6 billion. This is huge and welcome news to the scientific community that has been making the case that research funding for physical sciences has been flat for a number of years undercutting the innovation ecosystem.

Below is a summary of the science funding:

“Transform our Economy with Science and Technology:  To secure America’s role as a world leader in a competitive global economy, we are renewing America’s investments in basic research and development, in training students for an innovation economy, and in deploying new technologies into the marketplace.  This will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy.

Investing in Scientific Research (More than $15 Billion)

* Provides $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, for basic research in fundamental science and engineering – which spurs discovery and innovation.
* Provides $1.6 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which funds research in such areas as climate science, biofuels, high-energy physics, nuclear physics and fusion energy sciences – areas crucial to our energy future.
* Provides $400 million for the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency in collaboration with industry.
* Provides $580 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, including the Technology Innovation Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
* Provides $8.5 billion for NIH, including expanding good jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and heart disease.
* Provides $1 billion for NASA, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research.
* Provides $1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants.

Security: They’re doing it wrong

P2P Networks Rife With Sensitive Health Care Data, Researcher Warns

Computerworld (01/30/09) Vijayan, Jaikumar 

Sensitive medical data is easily available through peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks, reveals a study by researchers at Dartmouth College. During the study, the researchers used search terms related to the top 10 publicly traded U.S. healthcare organizations to see if they could find medical data on P2P networks such as Gnutella, FastTrack, Aries, and e-Donkey.

Dartmouth professor Eric Johnson says the searches yielded a plethora of information from healthcare companies, suppliers, and patients. For example, Johnson says he was able to find a 1,718-page document containing Social Security numbers, dates of birth, insurance information, treatment codes, and other sensitive data belonging to roughly 9,000 patients at a medical testing laboratory.

Johnson and the other researchers were able to obtain the information because employees at healthcare providers installed P2P networks on their computers, which allow users to download and share music and videos from shared folders but also can allow users to obtain other types of files if care is not taken to control which folders users have access to.

Johnson says the study underscores the need for hospitals and other healthcare providers to be aware of the dangers of inadvertent data leakage as well as the need to put improved controls in place to monitor, detect, and stop them.

Two things today ….

Urban Word of the Day
from the Urban Dictionary:

February 2: boss sandwich

An unfortunate cubicle configuration in which you find yourself sandwiched in between two of your bosses.

I can’t even check my GMail account at work because I’m in a total boss sandwich

I’m such a sad panda at work these days. I’m totally the lunch meat in a major boss sandwich.


In the moment:

People who are on twitter ( I fit numerous categories, how about you?):