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U.S. Health System Not Properly Designed to Meet the Needs of Patients Nearing End of Life

Sept. 17, 2014

The U.S. health care system is not properly designed to meet the needs of patients nearing the end of life and those of their families, and major changes to the system are necessary, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The committee that wrote the report envisioned an approach to end-of-life care that integrates traditional medical care and social services and that is high-quality, affordable, and sustainable. The committee called for more "advance care planning" by individuals, for improved training and credentialing for clinicians, and for federal and state governments and private sectors to provide incentives to patients and clinicians to discuss end-of-life issues.

Improving Health Infrastructure Across Nations Key to Maintaining Successful Programs

Sept. 16, 2014

Without attention to the management, financing, and infrastructure that support health services in low- and middle-income countries, it will not be possible to maintain the progress of global health programs, such as the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and response efforts to widespread pandemics, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. For example, malaria eradication efforts may have failed because case surveillance was not integrated into primary care. The report says an aid strategy that emphasizes research and training, global public goods, efficient management, and rigorous program evaluation would go far to improving the health infrastructure in these countries and to making good use of the proportionately decreasing prominence of U.S. assistance in national health budgets.

NAS Gulf Research Program Announces Strategic Vision and Initial Opportunities

Sept. 15, 2014

A new strategic vision document released today by the National Academy of Sciences' Gulf Research Program describes the long-term goals, objectives, and strategies for the program and will guide its scope of work over the next five years (2015-2020). In addition, the program announced that its initial, short-term activities, to be funded in 2015, will include exploratory grants, early-career research fellowships, and science policy fellowships. The $500 million, 30-year program to be run by NAS -- an independent, nonprofit institution -- was established at the request of the U.S. government as part of the criminal settlements related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history. Focused on human health, environmental protection, and safety of oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico and the United States' Outer Continental Shelf, the program will support research and development, education and training, and environmental monitoring.

EPA Should Incorporate Sustainability Approaches More Broadly

Sept. 10, 2014

A broad array of tools is available to help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency incorporate sustainability concepts into its decision making, and the agency should do so across its spectrum of activities, says a new report from the National Research Council. For every major decision, EPA should include a strategy to assess implications for the three dimensions of sustainability -- environmental, social, and economic -- in an integrated manner. EPA should also collaborate with private-sector companies and non-government organizations (NGOs), leveraging their insights and experiences with sustainability. Read more

Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation Wins Best Book Award From National Academies; NPR, New York Times, and Seattle Times Also Take Top Prizes

Sept. 9, 2014

The recipients of the 2014 Communication Awards were announced today by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. Supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation since 2003 as part of the Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious awards -- each of which includes a $20,000 prize -- recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. The winners were selected from a record 335 entries for works issued in 2013. Read more

Resilient America Roundtable Announces Pilot Projects to Build Disaster Resilience in Charleston, South Carolina, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Sept. 5, 2014

At a workshop today in Washington, D.C., the National Research Council’s Resilient America Roundtable announced its first two American communities that will be the focus of pilot projects to develop a community disaster resilience strategy, based on the Research Council report Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative. The two communities are Charleston, South Carolina, and Linn County/Cedar Rapids, Iowa.Over an initial two-year period, Resilient America Roundtable teams will work with decision makers, local organizations, businesses, and citizens in Charleston and Cedar Rapids to better understand the risks each community faces and design strategies to bolster resilience to these risks. Lessons learned in each of the pilot communities will be shared broadly with other communities across the nation.“These pilot projects offer us an exciting opportunity to bring science into communities to help them build their own community disaster resilience strategies,” said Lauren Alexander Augustine, director of the Resilient America Roundtable. For more information on the pilot projects and the Resilient America Roundtable, visit the Roundtable’s website.

Formaldehyde Confirmed as Known Human Carcinogen

Aug. 8, 2014

A new report from the National Research Council has upheld the listing of formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen" in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC). The committee that wrote the Research Council report found that the listing is supported by sufficient evidence from human studies that indicate a causal relationship between exposure to the chemical and at least one type of human cancer. It reached the same conclusion after conducting both a peer review of the RoC and an independent assessment of the formaldehyde literature.

National Academies Host Symposium on Science, Technology, and Innovation for Development in Africa

Aug. 5, 2014

While President Obama hosts the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine are holding a symposium to explore the role of science, technology, and innovation in advancing development and economic growth in Africa.  The webcast has ended. A recording will be available online at a later date.Follow the conversation on Twitter at #AfricaSciDev

Strong, Positive Safety Culture in Chemical Labs Requires Support From All Levels Within Research Institutions

July 31, 2014

Everyone involved in the academic chemical research enterprise -- from researchers and principal investigators to university leadership -- has an important role to play in establishing and promoting a strong, positive safety culture, says a new report from the National Research Council. This requires a constant commitment to safety organization-wide and emphasis on identifying and solving problems, rather than merely adhering to a set of rules and assigning blame when those rules are not followed. Read More

$15 Billion Annual Public Financing System for Physician Training Needs Overhaul

July 29, 2014

The U.S. should significantly reform the federal system for financing physician training and residency programs to ensure that the public's $15 billion annual investment is producing the doctors that the nation needs, says a new report by the Institute of Medicine. Current financing -- provided largely through Medicare -- requires little accountability, allocates funds independent of workforce needs or educational outcomes, and offers insufficient opportunities to train physicians in the health care settings used by most Americans. Read More

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