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Federal Government
Researcher Charged In HIV Vaccine Fraud Case Funded By National Institutes Of Health Grant PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 09:29


IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Responding to a major case of research misconduct, federal prosecutors have taken the rare step of filing charges against a scientist after he admitted falsifying data that led to millions in grants and hopes of a breakthrough in AIDS vaccine research.
Investigators say former Iowa State University laboratory manager Dong-Pyou Han has confessed to spiking samples of rabbit blood with human antibodies to make an experimental HIV vaccine appear to have great promise. After years of work and millions in National Institutes of Health grants, another laboratory uncovered irregularities that suggested the results — once hailed as groundbreaking — were bogus.
Han was indicted last week on four counts of making false statements, each of which carries up to five years in prison. He was set to be arraigned Tuesday in Des Moines, but he didn't show up due to an apparent paperwork mix-up. A prosecutor said Han will be given another chance to appear next week.
Han, 57, didn't return a message left at his home in Cleveland, where he's been living since resigning from the university last fall. A native of South Korea, he surrendered his passport following his arrest and initial court appearance in Ohio last week.
Experts said the fraud was extraordinary and that charges are rarely brought in such cases. The National Institutes of Health said it's reviewing what impact the case has had on the research it funds.
"It's an important case because it is extremely rare for scientists found to have committed fraud to be held accountable by the actual criminal justice system," said Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, which tracks research misconduct.
Oransky, a journalist who also has a medical degree, said there have been only a handful of similar prosecutions in the last 30 years.
He said Han's case was "particularly brazen" and noted that charges are rarely brought because the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, which investigates misconduct, doesn't have prosecution authority, and most cases involve smaller amounts of money.
"It's a pretty extraordinary case involving clear, intentional falsification," added Mike Carome, a consumer advocate and director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group. "The wool was pulled over many people's eyes."
Carome noted that Han's misconduct wasted tax dollars and caused researchers to chase a false lead. He said such cases also undermine the public's trust in researchers.
Finding an HIV vaccine remains a top international scientific priority. A 2009 study in Thailand is the only one ever to show a modest success, protecting about a third of recipients against infection. That's not good enough for general use, so researchers continue exploring numerous approaches.
According to the indictment, Han's misconduct caused colleagues to make false statements in a federal grant application and progress reports to NIH.
The NIH paid out $5 million under that grant as of earlier this month. Iowa State has agreed to pay back NIH nearly $500,000 for the cost of Han's salary.
Han's misconduct dates to when he worked at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland under Michael Cho, who was leading a team testing an experimental HIV vaccine on rabbits.
Starting in 2008, Cho's team received initial NIH funding for the work. Cho reported soon that his vaccine was causing rabbits to develop antibodies to HIV, which left NIH officials "flabbergasted," according to a criminal complaint against Han.
Cho's team sent blood samples in 2009 to Duke University researchers, who verified the apparent positive impact on the vaccinated rabbits. The confirmation was seen as "a major breakthrough in HIV/AIDS vaccine research," according to the complaint.
Iowa State recruited Cho in 2009, and with his team — including Han — he soon received a five-year NIH grant to continue the research. The team kept reporting progress. But in January 2013, a team at Harvard University found the promising results had been achieved with rabbit blood spiked with human antibodies.
An investigation by Iowa State pinpointed Han, after he was caught sending more spiked samples to Duke University. In a Sept. 30, 2013 confession letter, Han said he started the fraud in 2009 "because he wanted (results) to look better" and that he acted alone.
"I was foolish, coward, and not frank," he wrote.
Cho has said he was devastated and angered that he wasted years on the research, but he has vowed to continue his work. He has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Stephen Brown, medical director for the AIDS Research Alliance, said the case highlights the fierce competition to win increasingly scarce NIH research funding.
"Han's case also indicates the need for greater transparency and oversight of the peer review funding process, which is cloaked in secrecy and often leads to large sums being given to favored organizations, despite a lack of output," Brown said in a statement.
Federal Government Looks To Boost Recruitment Of Younger Workers PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 09:23

RALEIGH, (SGRToday.com) - With nearly half of the U.S. federal workforce over the age of 50, federal officials are looking for ways to entice digital savvy younger people to government work. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2013, 45 percent of federal employees were 50-plus, and that has recruiters concerned they won't have the talent to replace Baby Boomers who are beginning to age out of employment. In just two years, a quarter of federal employees will be eligible to retire. 
Part of the problem, say experts, is that the hiring bureaucracy is tedious and involved, and that is a turn-off to younger people used to making transactions with a click of a button.
One strategy being used the government is to step up visits to college campuses.
The entire story can be found at http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-government-struggles-to-attract-young-savvy-staff-members-1402445198
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 09:23
Reeling From Criticism About New School Lunch Requirements, USDA Sends Out Endorsements Of Program PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Monday, 23 June 2014 10:10

RALEIGH, (SGRToday.com) - As complaints pour in from school districts having trouble implementing tough, more expensive food regulations, the federal agency that oversees the program is pushing back with a campaign of endorsements. 

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a news release pinning the blame for the backlash on House Republicans.
"Now, just as childhood obesity rates are finally starting to level off, House Republicans are trying to rollback healthy meal standards and undermine efforts to provide kids with more nutritious food," the release stated. "But more and more leaders are voicing strong support for keeping healthy meals in schools, including: the American Medical Association, the American Association of Pediatrics, the Parent Teacher Association and teachers' organizations, retired generals concerned about our country's military readiness, newspaper editorial boards across the country, 19 past presidents of the School Nutrition Association, and many others are all voicing strong support for healthy school meals."
The USDA included the following endorsements for the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama:
"When we began our Let's Move! initiative four years ago, we set one simple but ambitious goal: to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation so that kids born today will grow up healthy... Back in 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which set higher nutritional standards for school lunches, also based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. Today, 90 percent of schools report that they are meeting these new standards. As a result, kids are now getting more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other foods they need to be healthy. This is a big win for parents who are working hard to serve their kids balanced meals at home and don't want their efforts undermined during the day at school. And it's a big win for all of us since we spend more than $10 billion a year on school lunches and should not be spending those hard-earned taxpayer dollars on junk food for our children."– Opinion column, The Campaign for Junk Food, May 28, 2014
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and former Bush Administration Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman:
"Four years ago, Congress, in a strong bipartisan effort, committed to America's children that they would enjoy healthier and more nutritious meals at school. Sadly, just as we are beginning to see the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 succeed, some in Congress want to step back from that commitment. Now is not the time to backpedal on a healthier future for our kids. Two-thirds of adults and one-third of American children are overweight or obese. The cost of treating obesity-related illnesses is $190.2 billion per year, dragging down our economy and increasing budget deficits. If nothing changes, this generation of children will be the first to live shorter lives than their parents."– Jointly authored opinion column, Don't Play Politics with Children's Health, The Hill, May 29, 2014
School Nutrition Association Past Presidents Initiative (19 former presidents of the School Nutrition Association, in a letter to Congress):
"We the undersigned past presidents of the School Nutrition Association, understand that major change takes time and a commitment to the goal that prompted the change. We believe most communities and schools want school nutrition programs that help children learn to enjoy healthy foods. We are confident that the broad public support for HHFKA and USDA's demonstrated willingness to work with school leaders to solve implementation issues will prevail and create stronger school nutrition programs."
Mission: Readiness:
"We all know that obesity rates among children have increased dramatically in recent decades. This is not only a serious health concern for these children, it has also affected who can join the military: more than one in five young Americans is too overweight to enlist; and being overweight or obese is the leading medical reason why young adults cannot join the military...We are at an important juncture. Schools are capable of serving healthier foods and the vast majority are already doing so. Congress should resist efforts to derail continued implementation of science-based nutrition guidelines for school meals and snacks. Together, we can make sure that America's child obesity crisis does not become a national security crisis."– Retired Major General Tracy Strevey, Jr., MD, former Commander of U.S. Army Health Services Command
National Parent Teacher Association:
"Implementation of provisions included in the last reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act - the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act - continues to be a top priority for National PTA. The law dramatically improves the quality of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, increases the reimbursement rate for meals served, supports community efforts to reduce childhood hunger, establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, and includes improvements to strengthen Local Wellness Policies (LWPs)."– Otha Thornton, President
National Education Association:
"National Education Association strongly supports the school meal nutrition standards in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. These common-sense requirements are essential to ensuring all children a healthy and successful start in life, particularly those whose families cannot afford to provide fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods at home on a regular basis. The benefits and cost-savings to our children and our nation in the long-run will be significant."– Dennis Van Roekel, President
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
"After only one year post-implementation, 90 percent of schools are meeting the new lunch standards. But with change comes challenges, and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was no exception. There is now a debate in the House to make changes to impede this progress. With the positive results, we have seen already, let's work together to help the remaining schools cross the finish line."– President, Sonja L Connor, MS, RDN, LD, President-Elect, Evelyn F Crayton, EdD, RDN, LDN, Past President, Dr. Glenna R McCollum, MPH, RDN and Chief Executive Officer, Patricia M Babjak, GSLIS
American Medical Association:
"Obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are very real challenges facing far too many of our kids and the American Medical Association supports ongoing steps to improve their overall health and nutrition, including healthier school meals and reduced consumption of sugar sweetened beverages. Congress should not undermine the Institute of Medicine's science-based standards that were developed to ensure kids are eating healthy food while in school. Schools should be safe zones where kids learn healthy habits based on the best available science, and not undermined by politics or corporate influence."– Ardis Dee Hoven, President
American Academy of Pediatrics:
"On behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a non-profit professional organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults, I write to urge you to maintain the nutritional standards and scientific integrity of the school meals program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC."– James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, President
American Heart Association/American Stroke Association:
On behalf of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and its more than 22 million volunteers, I am writing to express our strong support for the school food nutrition standards set forth by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. We vigorously opposed any attempt to eliminate or roll back policies such as the whole grain and sodium standards, fruits and vegetable servings, and Smart Snacks implementation. Delaying or even abolishing these standards puts our children's health in jeopardy and sets them on an early path to heart disease, stroke, disability, and early death.– Nancy Brow, CEO
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network:
For decades, Congress has wisely ensured that federal child nutrition programs have been guided by science. ACS CAN, along with 100 national organizations and many more state and local groups, oppose attempts to use the appropriations process to change or weaken the federal child nutrition programs, including the proposed school meal waivers and changes to the WIC program requirements. We believe that the federal child nutrition programs should be guided by science, rather than politics.– Chris Hansen, President
Alliance for a Healthier Generation:
As we soon close out the 2013 – 2014 school year, we should be celebrating-not rolling back-the great progress that schools have made toward implementing the USDA's school nutrition standards. Nationwide, we know that over 90% of schools are meeting or exceeding the nutrition standards for school meals established in 2012. This is a significant win for the health of our children and proof that positive change is possible.– Howell Wechsler, CEO
Trust for America's Health:
"We urge Congress to oppose any provisions that would attempt to roll back school nutrition standards-and, in so doing, decrease access to healthy foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables and increase the consumption of salt, sugar and fat. With more than 90 percent of participating schools reporting success in meeting nutrition standards set forth by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, for the first time in decades, children are eating healthier at school."– Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director
United Fresh Produce Association:
"The fresh produce industry stands ready to support school foodservice directors in implementing the fruit and vegetable requirements. Serving one-half cup of fruits and vegetables, in ways that kids love and want to eat, is one goal that we are already accomplishing together. We commit to providing school foodservice directors with technical assistance, training in produce procurement and handling, and sharing best practices of what's working in thousands of schools across the country. This should not be a partisan issue for rancorous debate. We can all stand together to put the health of America's children first, while giving schools the technical support they need to comply with these very basic standards. Please do not vote to cut out one-half cup of fruits and vegetables from school meals. Without at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable, I don't believe we could even call it a meal. We urge you to support any amendments in the full Committee that would preserve these critical nutrition standards."– Thomas E. Stenzel, President and CEO
American Federation of Teachers:
"Our kids come first. That is why communities, parents, food service workers, and educators came together, demanded change, and supported access to healthier meals for all students. These standards are now in place and are working. The American Federation of Teachers is proud to stand with first lady Michelle Obama, advocates, parents, food service workers, teachers, school support staff and communities against any roll back of the current nutrition standards for school meals." – Randi Weingarten, President
Members of the Faith Community:
"As members of the faith community, we write to express our opposition to efforts to revise federal child nutrition programs through the appropriations process and urge you to ensure these nutrition programs continue to be based on the best available nutritional science, not special or political interests."– 18 Members of the Faith Community
The New York Times:
"Republicans on a powerful House committee have balked at requiring all schools to serve healthy lunches in the coming school year. The action drew a well-deserved rebuke from the first lady, Michelle Obama, who has focused public attention on combating obesity among young people through exercise and better nutrition. Let's hope the Senate holds out against such inanity... The guidelines are not all that difficult to meet; 90 percent of the nation's schools have been able to do so."– Editorial, Bad Food in School Cafeterias, June 1, 2014
The Washington Post:
"The Federal government spends more than $10 billion a year on the National School Lunch Program, which serves more than 30 million students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For that, taxpayers should expect schools not to feed their children junk. That was the reasonable logic behind a 2010 law requiring stronger federal standards on school lunches - a law that Republicans in the House just voted to undercut... Given that a third of American children and teenagers are overweight or obese, this initiative is common sense... Ripping a hole in the law would be a mistake."– Editorial, GOP Would Allow Schools to Opt Out of Nutritional Standards for Students' Lunches, May 20, 2014
USA Today:
"This would be a major, and unnecessary, step backward in the effort to make school lunches healthier. Any legitimate problems should be fixable with minor adjustments and some flexibility from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There's no need for congressional involvement."– Editorial, Food Fight in Congress Threatens Our Kids, May 29, 2014
Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2014 10:11
UNC Chapel Hill Professor Among Those Named To National Institutes Of Health Council PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Friday, 20 June 2014 09:15

RALEIGH, (SGRToday.com) - The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine's Dr. Terry Magnuson is one of nine professionals appointed to the National Institute of Health's Council of Councils. Magnuson will serve through October 2016. 

The council was established to advise the NIH Director on policies and activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI), including making recommendations on research that represents important areas of emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges, or knowledge gaps that deserve special emphasis or would otherwise benefit from strategic planning and coordination.
The council is composed of 27 members nominated by the NIH Institutes and Centers and from the Council of Public Representatives, an advisory committee to the NIH Office of the Director. Council members bring knowledge of institutes and centers and Office of the Director Office missions and operations, not as official representatives, but to provide advice beyond the research agenda of any individual institute or center.
The new members:
Philip O. Alderson, M.D., Saint Louis University
Marlene Belfort, Ph.D., University of Albany, State University of New York
Ana M. Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York
Judy E. Garber, M.D., M.P.H., Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston
Lila Gierasch, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
King K. Holmes, M.D., Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle
Norma Sue Kenyon, Ph.D., University of Miami School of Medicine
Terry Magnuson, Ph.D., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Norbert J. Pelc, Sc.D., Richard M. Lucas Center for Imaging, Clark Center, Stanford, California
Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2014 09:37

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