Early Voting in Massachusetts, New for 2016

Election laws in Massachusetts were changed in 2014 to allow early voting during a two-week period ahead of the November General Election Day every two years, starting with the 2016 general election. The early voting period for 2016 will begin Monday, October 24, and end on Friday, November 4.

There are two important things to know about early voting in Massachusetts:

  1. Massachusetts-registered voters may cast their ballot at any early voting location
  2. Early voting locations may be different than your usual election day polling location, do not have the same hours, and may not be available every day during the early voting period.

If you wish to participate in early voting, make sure you are eligible by checking your voter status or registering to vote in Massachusetts. The early polling locations closest to the Tufts Boston Campus are:

Date & Time Location
Monday, October 24
2 -8 PM
Metropolitan Condominiums
38 Oak St
Chinatown, MA 02111
(enter from 38 Oak St)
* Across the street from Posner Hall

Walking from M&V Building:
0.2 mile (~5 minutes)

Weekdays
Monday, October 24 –
Friday, November 4
M/W/F: 9 AM – 8 PM, except 11/4
Tu/Th: 9 AM – 5 PM, and 11/4
Boston City Hall
1 City Hall Plaza
Boston, MA 02201

Walking from M&V Building:
0.8 mile (~20 minutes)

Saturday, October 29
12 -6 PM
Boston Public Library, Copley Square
700 Boylston St
Back Bay, MA 02120

Walking from M&V Building:
1.1 miles (~25 minutes)

Monday, October 31
2 -8 PM
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
41 Berkeley St
Bay Village, MA 02111

Walking from M&V Building:
0.7 mile (~15 minutes)

The City of Boston has a page on their website to look up early voting locations by date or by neighborhood.

More information about early voting in Massachusetts and early voting locations is available on the website of the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

2016 Voter Registration Deadlines Are Approaching

The 2016 General Election will be held Tuesday, November 8, but in order to participate, you must be registered to vote by the registration deadline.

The voter registration deadlines vary by state, so it is important to check these dates and also to make sure you’re registered. A free, online service that can help is TurboVote, a project by the non-partisan nonprofit Democracy Works that aims to make voting easier. TurboVote will direct you to the appropriate Secretary of State’s website to check your registration or register to vote. Many states, including Massachusetts, offer online voter registration if you are a legal resident and have a state driver’s license or identification card. You can also sign up to have TurboVote send you election day reminders by text or e-mail.

In Massachusetts, the voter registration deadline for this year’s election is Wednesday, October 19. Election-related information is available on the website of the Massachusetts Secretary of State (http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm). Many resources are available, including to check your registration status, find your polling location, request an absentee ballot, find information on candidates and ballot questions, and register to vote if you are eligible.

Disclosure: Neither I nor the InSight were asked to publicize TurboVote and Democracy Now, and we are not receiving compensation for doing so.

Harold F. Dvorak, M.D., invited to deliver 11th Annual Jeffrey Isner Lecture

The 11th Annual Isner Lecture is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 4 pm at Behrakis Auditorium in the first floor of the Jaharis building. In keeping with the tradition of inviting speakers who have made significant contributions to the field of angiogenesis-related research, this year’s speaker will be Harold F. Dvorak, M.D., credited with the discovery of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). Dr Dvorak’s talk is titled “VPF/VEGF, Angiogenesis and Stroma Formation: The Tumor Vasculature as Therapeutic Target”.

 

About the lectureship & Dr. Jeffrey M. Isner

The Jeffrey M. Isner, M.D. Endowed Memorial Lectureship was established in 2007, in honor of Dr. Jeffrey Isner, a graduate, and later, a faculty member, of the Tufts Medical School. This lectureship is meant to provide an opportunity to bring the Tufts medical and biomedical communities together to “ to reflect upon and consider the pioneering work of Dr Jeffrey Isner.” The lectureship also invites a keynote speaker, chosen from the internationally recognized pioneers in clinical and/or basic science research communities focusing on angiogenesis-related research, vascular biology and cardiovascular medicine.

Dr. Jeffrey M. Isner, Source - Tufts Medical School website
Dr. Jeffrey M. Isner, Source – Tufts Medical School website

Dr. Isner was a pioneer himself, as evidenced by his profession as an interventional cardiologist, a nascent medical field at that time. He is also known for his novel therapeutic approaches, such as combining gene therapy and angioplasty to treat blocked blood vessels in patients. While treating a patient in 1994 for a blocked vessel in the leg, Dr. Isner and his team coated the angioplasty balloon with genes to express VEGF in an attempt to observe whether the VEGF protein would be able to promote the growth of new blood vessels that would bypass the blocked artery. While clinical gene therapy applications were still years away, his attempts and results were deemed promising by his peers. Dr. Isner was also actively involved in bringing his approach to the market – he was a founder and a major stockholder in the company Vascular Genetics, based in North Carolina. Not surprisingly, his involvement in the industry resulted in some critics to suggest that this could affect his medical judgement, suggestions that were rejected by Dr. isner. In 2000, the FDA suspended research carried out by the company and St. Elizabeth’s on the grounds of possible improper reporting on death of patients enrolled in the trial. However, in Spring of 2011, his research was allowed to resume and he was additionally awarded a $10 million dollar grant. (Nagourney 2001)

 

Dr. Isner, who passed away at the age of 53 from a cardiac arrest in 2001, is survived by his wife, Linda Hajjar, and his three children – Joshua, Jessica and Matthew. His motivation to bring novel therapies for cardiovascular diseases from the lab to the clinic stemmed from his will to make a difference, as he said in an interview in 1998 – “… the thing that really motivated me more than anything else is a sense that I don’t want to feel that I was just kind of passing through during this lifetime. I do not want to be just one more person that came and left. I always wanted to do something that could make a little difference.” (Ferguson 2001).

 

Fun fact – Dr. Isner had a walk-on role in “Seinfeld”, thanks to his friendship with Larry David, the show’s co-director, co-producer and a chief writer.

 

About the Speaker

Dr. Harold F. Dvorak. Source - www.bidmc.org
Dr. Harold F. Dvorak. Source – www.bidmc.org

This year the Isner Lectureship steering committee has invited Dr. Harold F. Dvorak, MD, Professor of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,  to deliver the keynote lecture, a choice that is befitting to honor Dr. Isner’s memory given that Dr Dvorak is internationally recognized for his discovery of VPF in 1983, later known as VEGF, and his contributions on understanding tumor vasculature. His work on the role of VEGF secreted by tumors led us to the understanding of tumors as wounds that cannot heal, but are able to sustain themselves by promoting growth of blood vessels (Ribatti 2007). This discovery opened up a whole new facet of tumor biology and a host of potential new avenues for cancer therapeutics. To this date, Dr. Dvorak and his team are working on understanding angiogenesis in tumors to the greatest detail and developing anti-angiogenic therapy for cancer treatment.

 

Sources –

PubMed Tip of the Month: Searching for Chemicals & Drugs

Use the common name: PubMed is not primarily a resource for chemical information, so forget what I said in my column about not searching by name. Enter the common name for a chemical, drug or other substance in the main search box.  Scroll down the results page to the ‘Search Details’ box in the right-hand column to check to see if the name you entered matched a MeSH term.

Use the standardized name: To search by standardized name in PubMed, replace any brackets or parentheses with a hyphen (if not already present). You can either spell out or enter the symbol for Greek characters such as β.

To search for: 1-[(3,5-dichloro)-2,6-dihydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl]-1-hexanone

Enter: 1-3,5-dichloro-2,6-dihydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl-1-hexanone

Search the MeSH database: Didn’t find what you were looking for when you searched by name? Try searching the MeSH database.  Select ‘MeSH’ from the dropdown menu to the left of the main search box.  Enter a component of the name.

To search for: alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid

Enter: isoxazolepropionic

Try a unique identifier: In either PubMed or the MeSH database, enter the CAS RN or FDA Unique Ingredient Identifier (UNII, identifier assigned by the FDA Substance Registration System to substances in drugs, biologics, foods and devices) for a substance. If searching PubMed, then enter the identification number, followed by the field tag ‘[RN]’.  For example: 69-93-2[RN].  I find this method of limited utility, partly because CAS RNs have not been added to MeSH since 1998.

GSC Committee & Club Updates: October 2016

Tufts Biomedical Queer Alliance (TBQA)

by Laura DarniederNRSC

First General Meeting!
Join LGBTQIA colleagues from the Medical, Dental, and Sackler schools on Wednesday 12/12 at noon in Sackler 114W for free dumplings and to learn about this year’s upcoming events!

Tufts Biomedical Business Club (TBBC)

from Jaclyn DunphyNRSC

The Tufts Biomedical Business Club (TBBC) is a student run organization whose mission is to cultivate business leaders in the health and life sciences. TBBC is a growing community of graduate, medical, dental and nutrition students, postdocs, physicians, scientists and alumni. It provides members with opportunities to learn about consulting, business development, entrepreneurship, intellectual property and more.  We engage our members though a number of initiatives including a seminar series, Biotech Journal Club, Consulting Case Study Group, panel discussions, Biotech BUZZ and most recently the Biomedical Data Science Club. E-mail tuftsbiotech@gmail.com for more information.

Recent Events:

TBBC Seminar Series: Seismic – W Sep 21: The founders of Scismic, a tool aimed at helping researchers to find their optimal work environment/mentor, met with students and postdocs for feedback on the company’s product and business model.

TBBC Tufts Advisory Partners – After a successful first engagement last year, TAP’s second engagement is now well under way.

Upcoming Events:

TBBC Case Study Group: Mondays – 5-7PM, Jaharis 508

Practice solving cases, gain insight and tips, and learn more about the field of consulting.

 

 

TBBC Tufts Biomedical Data Science Club: Information Session:   Tu Oct 11 — 5PM-7PM, Sackler 221

The Tufts Biomedical Data Science Club will be a resource for students wishing to learn and apply programming techniques in order to tackle big data problems in the biomedical sciences. No programming experience required! The club will host bi-monthly meetings, work on group projects, and provide opportunities to hear invited speakers and network with others interested in big data. Please email Matt Kelley at matt.kelley@tufts.edu with any questions.

TBBC Biotech Buzz with Hannah Mamuszka: F Oct 21 — 9AM-10AM, M&V Lobby (Stearns 108)

Picked by Future of Biopharma as one of 5 women to watch in Boston, Hannah Mamuszka is the founder and CEO of Alva10- a company specializing in precision medicine. Hannah will be joining us for an informal conversation about the latest news in biotech, her career, and Alva10.

TBBC, GSC, and the Sackler Dean’s Office Career Exploration Panel: Th Nov 3 — 5PM, Sackler 114

A panel of senior graduate students will provide insight about steps that newer students can take to prepare themselves for a variety of career paths, including: academic/industry science, teaching, entrepreneurship, science communication, policy, data science, venture capital, and consulting.

On the Shelf…

For work…

Lab Math

Lab Math, by Dany Spencer Adams

Location: HHSL Book Stacks, Sackler, 5th Floor, QA40.A34 2014

Authored by a Tufts biology professor, this is a handbook of measurements, calculations and quantitative skills for use at the bench. The book describes various mathematical principles, basic statistics, and tasks involving numbers, such as calibrating lab equipment and making solutions.

And leisure…

I Contain Multitudes

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, by Ed Yong

Location: HHSL Book Stacks, Sackler, 5th Floor, QW 4 Y55 2016

This well-reviewed book, by the science writer Ed Yong, explores the relationships between animals and the microbes that live in, on, and around them.

ICYMI: Mentoring Circles Kickoff

As part of my resolution to better understand my career goals and options by attending more seminars at Tufts and then sharing my experiences with you, I decided to join the Tufts Mentoring Circle Program. Here’s a brief breakdown of the program’s kickoff event, which was held on October 6th in Sackler 114.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, the mentoring circles, open to all graduate students and postdocs at Tufts, are meant to provide a social and educational experience for mentors and mentees alike, bringing together people who, based on a previously submitted survey, have similar career goals and interests. At this first event, the circles, which have an average of five or six people per group, were brought together to meet one another and discuss objectives for the year. Since on my survey I indicated a strong interest in industry, my group consists of postdocs with the same inclination and a mentor who currently works as a scientist at a prominent pharmaceutical company in Cambridge. My experience will be unique to my personal goals, as those who stated an interest in academia are grouped with other academia-bound grad students and postdocs, similarly to how those who are working towards an alternative non-academic career, like science writing, are also assigned to one another for the duration of the program.   

After we introduced ourselves within our groups over pizza and salad, the organizers of the program gave a short presentation on tips and suggestions for how to have a successful circle. The importance of preparing for and attending every meeting was heavily stressed. We were also encouraged to mix up the format our meetings—instead of always just going to a coffee shop and talking, we can go to events together like symposiums, seminars, or even networking events. As someone who finds networking to be an intimidating and nerve-wracking experience, the prospect of having someone come along and act as a safety net seems fantastic and will make me more likely to attend.

After the presentation, groups were left to themselves to chat, set goals, and eat more pizza. In my group, every person had the opportunity to talk about what their dream job might entail—whereas some of the members had pretty specific career ideas, others, including myself, could only speak in broad strokes about factors like work-life balance, travel, and flexibility. The meeting was casual and fun, and it was actually a relief to hear some postdocs, even a few years out of graduate school, have undeveloped ideas about their careers and are still figuring out where they want to end up. Together, we decided on topics that we would like to discuss and goals that we would like to achieve throughout the year and we signed a “Mentoring Circle Contract” that stated the following: “We understand that each of us is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of our shared communications, meeting regularly at the times we have agreed upon, and actively participating in circle discussions”.  Though this was only our first meeting, I can tell we all have a lot to learn from one another and I am excited for the new professional and friendly circle I am now a part of! It’s like joining a club where the main project is you and your career.

Definitely keep an eye out for the program’s announcement next year, and also keep in mind that American Women in Science (AWIS) is another organization through which some of you can join a similar circle.

CRISPR Interference Battle: Still Duking It Out?

At the moment in the USPTO office, a fierce battle is occurring between two scientific teams over patent rights associated with core CRISPR/Cas technology. On one side of the dispute is Jennifer Doudna’s team from UC Berkeley. On the other side is Feng Zhang’s team from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Both teams were one of the first labs to demonstrate that the Cas9 enzyme can be directed to cut specific sites in isolated DNA. It will be intriguing to find out who is finally the victor of this contentious debate.

The story of the patent dispute has been lengthy and drawn-out. Jennifer Doudna’s team first filed for patent rights over CRISPR/Cas technology back in May of 2012. Feng Zhang’s team subsequently filed their patent in December of that same year. Interestingly, Zhang’s team beat Doudna’s team to the punch because in October of 2013 they submitted their patent for expedited review. Expedited review required the Broad to undergo “accelerate examination,” where they were required to respond quicker to questions asked by the USPTO office. Due to the expedited reviewing process, the patent was ultimately awarded to Zhang’s team in April of 2014. Shortly after this award, eleven other CRISPR-related patents were additionally filed under the Broad Institute. To counter-attack the Broad’s prompt monopoly over CRISPR-related patents, Doudna’s team requested a patent interference against all CRISPR-related patents filed by the Broad. The USPTO office finally granted the interference request in January of 2016.

Historically, an interference request has been a procedure to resolve disputes between two parties over who was the “first to invent.” However, in March of 2013 the USPTO altered the patent system from “first to invent” to “first to file.” Under these rules, Doudna’s team would have won the CRISPR patent rights because the team was the “first to file” their patent claiming rights over CRISPR/Cas technology. But since both parties filed their patents before March 2016, the interference procedure defaults under the outdated “first to invent” rules.

The “first to invent” rule has blurred the lines of who is the true proprietor of the patent rights. For over nine months, both parties have been providing evidence claiming they were the “first to invent.” The Broad asserts that Zhang’s team was the first group to demonstrate that CRISPR/Cas technology has applications in editing genes in mammalian cells. Furthermore, they argue that Doudna’s team only described using CRISPR/Cas in bacteria, not in eukaryotes. This distinction is important for patentability because some of CRISPR’s most lucrative, future applications will be in gene therapeutics for hospital patients. Doudna’s team countered the Broad’s argument by claiming that although her team only demonstrated the use of the technology in bacteria, transferring the technique to mammalian cells was “obvious” and any “person of ordinary skill,” such as a postdoc, could have made that inference. This observation is also important because one of the hallmarks of patentability is that it cannot be obvious to a person of ordinary skill. The Broad subsequently counter-argued that scientists in the biological field are far from being considered “ordinary” and the shift from bacteria to mammalian cells was “anything but obvious.” This type of back-and-forth between the USPTO, UC Berkeley, and the Broad has been continuing for the last nine months and updated details of the case can be viewed on the Broad’s CRISPR Patent Interference Updates webpage (reference is listed below).

Patent interference cases can last up to two years before appealing to the Federal Circuit. Due to the intense, ongoing clash between the two academic teams, attorneys expect the end date of the CRISPR patent interference case to be sometime in 2017. However, a recent twist in the interference case may close the case completely by the end of this year. This past week, UC Berkeley attorneys submitted a 2013 email to the USPTO office. This email was from Feng Zhang to Jennifer Doudna describing his team’s first, published CRISPR paper and mentioning that he has been “very inspired” by her team’s work. This is enough evidence to imply that Zhang’s team had adapted from Doudna’s team’s work. The Broad understands that it’s difficult to counter this piece of evidence. Since the submission of this email, the Broad has asked patent officials to remove four CRISPR-related patents from the interference case in hopes that they can demonstrate novelty of the patents in other ways that are separate from the initial Zhang team’s CRISPR patent. If the Broad can separate these patents from the interference case, then both UC Berkeley and the Broad can walk away with some intellectual property. We will see in the forthcoming weeks how the case plays out.

Although intellectual property was at stake for the two scientific teams, the interference case has been rather unusual in nature. Why has the fight been so bitter and acrimonious? One explanation could be that it’s not the academic institutions that are footing the legal bill for the case but the biotechnology companies that are relying on the license of the patent. Both Doudna and Zheng have started up genome editing companies and if one of those companies has proprietary rights over the CRISPR/Cas technology, that company can collect huge patent royalties. Perhaps another reason why the dispute has been rancorous is because Doudna and Zheng have their eyes set on Nobel Prize. CRISPR/Cas technology will and is revolutionizing the way we do basic science research, the way we treat diseases, and the way we practice agriculture. For these reasons it’s only inevitable that the scientists behind the technology will receive a Nobel Prize. Regardless of the uncertainty that surrounds the outcome of the patent interference case and the Nobel Prize, the scientific community is certain of one thing: CRISPR has definitely made its mark in history.

References:

  1. CRISPR Patent Interference Updates. Retrieved from https://www.broadinstitute.org/what-broad/areas-focus/project-spotlight/crispr-patent-interference-updates
  2. Begley, S. (2016, August 16). CRISPR patent fight: The legal bills are soaring. Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2016/08/16/crispr-patent-fight-legal-bills-soaring/
  3. Cohen, J. (2016, October 5). Dramatic twists could upend patent battle over CRISPR genome-editing method. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/10/dramatic-twists-could-upend-patent-battle-over-crispr-genome-editing-method
  4. McCall, A. (2016, June 5). The CRISPR Clash: Who owns the groundbreaking, DNA altering technique? Retrieved from http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/06/05/crispr-clash-dna-technology/id=69650/
  5. Ledford, H. (2016, September 21). The Titanic clash over CRISPR patents turns ugly. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/news/titanic-clash-over-crispr-patents-turns-ugly-1.20631

Photo from abc.net.au

Presidential Candidates Talk Science: Where They Stand on 20 Important Issues

by Nafis Hasan, Drew Hooper, & Kayla Gross

Science policy, though intertwined with many other aspects of national and international issues, is not the usual focus of a presidential election and often boils down to just a few questions during a debate. In an effort to change this narrative, in 2008, several scientific and engineering organizations initiated a challenge to the presidential candidates by asking them to participate in a science-focused debate. By crowdsourcing questions, ScienceDebate.org presented the candidates with 20 questions addressing the most immediate and important STEM-oriented issues that affect the American public and published their answers online. In its third iteration, this movement has recently posted the 2016 candidates’ responses.

With the election drawing nearer, we decided to review their answers and provide summaries which are listed below.

Clinton Trump Johnson Stein
Innovation
  • Establishes education, especially in computer science, as foundational for improving national innovation
  • Improve open access between government-funded scientists and private sector groups for “commercialization of research results”
  • Reduce barriers for entry into free markets to allow entrepreneurs to flourish
  • Emphasis on space exploration & “research & development across the broad landscape of academia”
  • Reduce tax burden allowing more private investment in innovation
  • Government should not pick winners and losers by imposing priorities
  • Requests for Applications skew science towards “fashionable topics”
  • Reduce Pentagon spending to free up dollars for innovation investment
  • “Level playing field” with living wage and paid sick leave will lead to more innovation
Research
  • Concerned about US “underinvestment in research”
  • Improve funding for (1) young investigators and (2) “high risk high reward” and/or long-term projects
  • Improve efforts towards sustaining “viable space program” and institutional research
  • Government should get out of the way, allow scientists to determine regulations
  • Private companies will invest in basic science research
  • More transparency in funding to reduce waste
  • Top priority is climate change
  • Science policy should better reflect preferences and needs of citizens
Climate Change
  • Acknowledges the severity of climate change and its consequences.
  • Proposes 3-tiered plan to reduce fossil fuel dependence through technological advancement, increase investment and reliance on cleaner energy alternatives and cut energy waste.
  • Also proposes to increase jobs in the clean energy sector.
  • Launch $60 billion initiative to partner with local govts for cleaner energy alternatives.
  • Believes climate change to be a hoax created by the Chinese, as evidenced by his speeches, and still refers to it in quotation marks.
  • Believes that limited resources would be better spent in other avenues such as clean water and food production.
  • Acknowledges the threat of climate change and the contribution of humans to it..
  • Believes that market forces will be able to bring tangible reductions in carbon emissions rather than governmental regulations and international treaties.
  • Believes climate change to be the “greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced”.
  • Proposes a “Green New Deal” which will create 20 million jobs and completely switch to clean energy sources by 2030.
  • Also proposes to end subsidies to fossil fuel companies and phase out nuclear energy.
  • Advocates for more investment in sustainable agriculture and infrastructure.
Biodiversity
  • Emphasis on preventative approaches to protect at-risk species from becoming endangered
  • International collaboration for research, information sharing, & conservation efforts
  • Necessary to move away from “special interests” controlling decisions about federal land
  • Innovation, free trade, and prosperity will enable better environmental protection
  • Private ownership of land leads to better stewardship
  • Ban pesticides that threaten pollinators
  • Invest in clean air and water, zero-waste manufacturing processes, and sustainable agricultural practices
Internet
  • Advocates internet to be kept as “a space for free exchange, providing all people equal access to knowledge and ideas.”
  • Proposes to build on Obama administration’s “Cybersecurity National Action Plan” and put in place a Chief Information Security Officer.
  • Cyber attacks to be treated just as any other attack and will be responded with serious political, economic and military approaches.
  • Believes that the govt should not “spy on its citizens”.
  • Any attack on the Internet deemed to require “utmost protection”, and a “proportional response” to “eliminate any threat to internet infrastructure”.
  • Advocates for protection of user privacy and encryption.
  • Wants to scale back National Security Agency’s role to provide cyber defense rather than being on the offensive.
  • Proposes more education on cyber security.
  • Propose to keep the internet free by supporting public broadband, supporting net neutrality laws, negotiate international treaties to ban cyber attacks with the UN’s help.
  • Opposes the “Online Piracy Act” and other legislation that would “undermine freedom and equality on the internet”.
Mental Health
  • Implement changes to health care system so that mental health & physical health are considered and treated in tandem
  • Improve awareness and training of medical & other professionals in mental health areas
  • Increase federal support to states to improve treatment options
  • Recognizes that “a comprehensive solution set must be developed”
  • Delivery of treatment is the key challenge, and state solutions are better than federal ones
  • Drug war prevents treatment by criminalizing drug abusers
  • Implement Medicare for All, including mental health care, Supplemental Security Income for mentally ill, and public education on mental illness
  • Provide rehabilitation services for mentally ill prisoners
Energy
  • Proposes a “smart energy policy” that will be at the intersection of economy, environment and security concerns.
  • Advocates for more usage of cleaner energy sources, with a short term focus on solar power.
  • Also wants to discourage fossil fuel dependence by cutting subsidies, investing more in clean energy technology and infrastructure.

*Also see “Climate Change” answer for more details.

  • Believes achieving “energy independence as soon as possible” as the goal of the US govt and American people.
  • Proposes said goal can be achieved by “exploring” all possible energy sources.
  • Also believes that the market will determine the best sources of energy for consumers.
  • Government interferes with proper acquisition and use of energy
  • Nuclear power is underused and overregulated
  • Market will dictate use of renewable energy sources
  • Rapidly transition to 100% clean energy
  • End fracking, offshore oil drilling, and nuclear power by pulling subsidies
Education
  • Committed to implementing improved computer science education at the primary, secondary, and collegiate levels to meet current job market needs, especially in underrepresented populations
  • Education models need to be changed as “one size fits all” does not work and thus should be determined at the local or state versus federal level
  • Will “allow market influences” to improve education
  • Federal standards are unnecessary and counter-productive
  • Rely on competition among states to incentivize high academic achievement
  • Pre-school through university should be “tuition-free and world-class”
  • Replace Common Core based on input from educators, parents, and communities
  • Increase federal funding of public schools
Public Health
  • Establish consistent budgeting for rapid responses to public health crises
  • Expand training programs as well as available resources to current government divisions
  • Resources are limited and thus assessment of areas with most need is required
  • Federal government’s role should be limited to “superbugs” and epidemics that cross state lines
  • Health data should be shared, not proprietary, to better monitor trends
  • Save money through a more preventative approach to public health
Water
  • Wants to work with both public and private sector to provide clean, safe water and improve water treatment technology.
  • Proposes to build a multi-agency “Western Water Partnership” to improve access to clean water.
  • Also proposes a “Water Innovation Lab” to develop novel technology for better water resource management.
  • Acknowledges the crisis and proposes to invest in infrastructure development to provide clean water to everyone.
  • Proposes increased desalinization approach and better infrastructure to meet the demands of clean water.
  • Failure to protect water supply as in Flint, MI is criminal
  • Federal government should step in when local and state officials fail or engage in misconduct
  • Investing in infrastructure will ensure clean water and prevent future crises
Nuclear Power
  • Fund research for advances in nuclear power
  • Reduce amount of weapons-grade nuclear material globally
  • Continue to rely on nuclear power as important part of energy independence
  • Maintain robust safety and security standards, and continue using nuclear power
  • Invest in newer, safer, less wasteful types of reactors
  • End nuclear power subsidies, and phase out nuclear power completely by 2027
Food
  • Proposes to increase investment in sustainable agricultural practices through the “Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development”.
  • Proposes to invest more in rural business through “Rural Business Investment Companies” that would drive growth and jobs in rural areas.
  • Believes that the market forces should be able to provide the agriculture industry with the best solutions.
  • However, also believes that food availability is a
    “national security issue” and therefore federal govt should be involved to provide a safety net for farmers.
  • Federal management of agricultural, including subsidies, has created imbalances
  • Label GMOs and regulate to make sure they are safe
  • Support regenerative agriculture and sustainability
Global   Challenges
  • Proposes to appoint US’ first “Special Envoy for Climate Change” and lead the world in responding to climate change. Also proposes to build a global “Climate and Clean Air Coalition” on an international level and make climate change a major diplomacy issue.
  • Also proposes to build a “Rapid Response Fund” to respond to national and international crises.
  • Wants to make sure that the US is experiencing economic growth due to his belief that “a prosperous America is a much better partner in tackling global problems”.
  • Use diplomacy and trade to engage with the world and solve global problems
  • International institutions should be strengthened to tackle climate change and pandemic disease
Regulations
  • Employ environmental, health, and energy regulations that “use the best available science”
  • Keep, rescind, or add regulations based on science
  • Balance economy with protection of citizens
  • Federal regulations should be reduced wherever possible
  • Patients in extremis should be free to use experimental medicine
  • FDA should be used more for informing the public about risk and less for regulating therapies
  • Rely on science advisors to formulate regulations
Vaccination
  • Globally eliminate childhood diseases through vaccination
  • Educate parents about dangers of not vaccinating their children
  • Bridge “innovation gap” between research and production of new vaccines
  • Invest in comprehensive vaccination program as a public service
  • Federal government should assist in the event of national or regional outbreak
  • Engage with partner countries to combat international outbreaks
  • Universal health care needed to ensure everyone has access to critical vaccines
  • Increase public trust in regulatory agencies by removing corporate influence
Space
  • Wants to build on current progress in US’ space exploration by ensuring funding for NASA’s programs.
  • Supports a “strong space program” from employment and educational perspectives.
  • Propose to work on a global scale to expand space exploration.
  • Space exploration should be encouraged in the private sector
  • Lead international collaboration to ensure that space technology benefits all people
  • Sign International Treaty for the Demilitarization of Space
  • Leave space exploration and research agenda up to scientists, not military or corporations
Opioids
  • Proposes a $10 billion initiative to fight the opioid epidemic by expanding the “Substance Abuse and Treatment block grant” and other federal-state partner programs.
  • Recommends “rehabilitation and treatment over prison for low-level and non-violent offenders”.
  • Wants to “stop the inflow of opioids” into the US.
  • Drug laws and “crony capitalism” of legal opioid sales have largely driven the opioid addiction crisis
  • Decriminalize and reschedule drugs, particularly cannabis
  • End the war on drugs and focus instead on research, education, and treatment
Ocean Health
  • Proposes to “oppose efforts in Congress that seek to weaken” established regulations on overfishing. Also wants to “act globally to address the fisheries crisis” and proposes better tracking of seafood sources.
  • Also wants to protect coastal habitats and coral reefs.
  • No mention of oceans, fishing, coral reefs or coastal habitats in answer.
  • Focus on protecting our own coastlines and territorial waters
  • Ocean pollution and over-harvesting will depend on international agreements and market forces
  • As part of total climate change response, conserve fish stocks and coral reefs “with or without Congress” (i.e. through executive action)
Immigration
  • Proposes to “staple” a green card to Master’s and PhD degree holders in STEM fields.
  • Proposes to support “start-up visas” for tech entrepreneurs from abroad to invest in the US.
  • Wants to streamline immigration process for “lawful residents” for easier naturalization, as mentioned in her comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Rebukes the tech companies for abusing the H1-B visa program.
  • Endorses “legal” individuals for extended stay in the US after achieving their degrees, however, was unclear on which status they would fall under.
  • Believes that a “robust” H1-B visa program will increase growth, innovation and wealth.
  • Wants market forces to determine immigration of labour and would streamline the immigration process for all labor types and skills.
  • Supports the H1-B visa program, and believes immigration issues should be studied within a global economic context.
  • Supports more “international development and demilitarization”.
  • No specific comments on “scientists and engineers who receive their graduate degree at American Universities.”
Scientific Integrity
  • Supports open access to government-funded findings through implementation of incentives for scientists to “share data, code & research results”
  • Invested in bolstering public trust in scientific findings, preserving non-partisan nature of science research, and maintaining penalties for fraud & dishonesty
  • Committed to eliminating political bias in research as “science is science and facts are facts”

 

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  • Increase transparency to reduce influence of political interference on scientific integrity
  • Respect diversity of thought in research centers
  • American public distrusts scientific regulatory agencies because of corrupting influence of pharmaceutical corporations
  • Stop the “revolving door” between political and corporate positions, and “clean up” regulatory agencies to improve public trust in science

And finally, members of our writing team have provided their opinions on where these candidates stand when it comes to STEM:

Andrew Hooper: The perennial policy debate in the U.S. boils down to a critical role for the federal government in ensuring parity and safety through regulation from the perspective of the political left (Clinton, Stein), versus the stifling of creativity and market forces by over-regulation from the political right’s point of view (Trump, Johnson). Thus there is a greater burden on Clinton and Stein to provide detailed agendas for tinkering with regulations and bureaucracies to improve them, while Trump and Johnson tend to fall back on broad statements about the free market, federal overreach, and misspent tax dollars, promising massive overhauls to get the federal government “out of the way” of entrepreneurs, innovators, and educators.

Nafis Hasan: The US govt’s scientific policy, since World War II, has largely focused on development of a technocratic superpower, with a delicate balance maintained between environmental and economic concerns. As such, the obvious split between the centre and left-leaning candidates (Clinton, Stein) and the right-leaning ones (Trump, Johnson) is reflected on how this status should be achieved. Both Clinton & Stein advocate federal govt’s regulations in areas of concern such as climate change, energy and water, whereas Trump (in cases where he does acknowledge the crises) and Johnson are more likely to put their trust in the free market, a Friedmanian ideology that wreaked economic havoc in countries where it was tested. While Clinton seems to have the most thought-out plans for all the 20 topics covered, she is lacking in concrete details in some cases; it is also concerning that Clinton doesn’t openly support protection of user privacy and data encryption, which the other three candidates have all favored. Stein, true to her party’s namesake, favors a much stronger stance on climate change, water and energy crises; however, her plans might be deemed a bit too “idealistic” for the American public’s and legislators’ tastes. Both Johnson and Trump, while making a few good points, advocate for measures that would largely remove federal regulations and govt programs that have kept the standard of living in this country from free-falling. By and large, the choice for the next President of the US should be quite obvious for the scientific community.

 

For related reading on these topics, check out:

 

Notes from the Library…Finding Chemical & Drug Information: Part I

In the course of your research, you may need information about chemical properties, structures and reactions, and articles from the chemical, biochemical and drug literature.  In this month’s column, I will cover resources for finding chemical information.  Next month, I will discuss drug information resources.

First, a few tips on searching for chemical property or reaction information.  Different resources use different naming conventions for chemical substances.  Thus, searching by substance name is the least efficient way to find chemical information.  The following approach is recommended:

  1. Structure: Utilize structure editor in resource to draw substance. Most effective method of searching, but available in all resources.
  2. Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CAS RN): The Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) of the American Chemical Society assigns unique identification numbers to chemical substances, e.g. 1007-32-5. Highly accurate method of searching, but not 100%, particularly in databases not produced by CAS.
  3. Molecular Formula: Effective search method, but may retrieve a long list of results.

Now that you know a little about how to search for chemical information, you need to know where search.  All the resources listed below are accessible from the ‘Find Chemical & Drug Information’ page in the Sackler School Biomedical Sciences Research Guide: http://researchguides.library.tufts.edu/c.php?g=275784&p=2706564.

Here are a few resources for finding property information:

CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics: The electronic version of this classic reference book provides tables of property data for organic, inorganic and biochemical compounds.  To search by structure, property, or molecular formula, click the flask icon in the upper right corner of the homepage.

Knovel Critical Tables: Collection of interactive tables that provide physical, thermal and electrical properties of chemicals compounds and solvents.  Good for approximate values, but tables do not include information about conditions under which properties were measured.  Search by CAS RN; structure search not available.

Merck Index Online: Encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs and biologicals with links to reference articles in PubMed.  Good for quickly finding structure, property and toxicity information.  Search by structure, CAS RN, molecular formula or name.

For chemical literature, as well as property and reaction information, try these databases:

Reaxys: Database of references to chemical journals, books, conference proceedings and patents.  Comprehensive indexing that extracts property, bioactivity, reaction and synthesis data from the literature means you can get experimentally-derived property data for organic, inorganic and organometallic substances without having to sift through the studies yourself.  Good for detailed information culled from the chemical literature.  To find property information, select the ‘Substances, Names, Formulas’ box on the Reaxys homepage.  Search by structure, CAS RN or molecular formula.

SciFinder: This Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) database offers property data on organic and inorganic molecules, proteins and polymers as well as experimental procedures, conditions, yields and solvents for chemical reactions.  SciFinder also provides references to the chemical, biochemical and chemical engineering literature from the CAplus and MEDLINE databases.  Registration required to use this database.  To register, follow instructions on the page that opens from the link above.