• R&DFortifying advanced manufacturing, save $100 billion annually by closing tech gaps

    To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, as well as save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and “proof-of-concept” demonstrations of emerging technologies. This is the overall conclusion reached by economic studies of four advanced manufacturing areas used to create everything from automobile composites to zero-noise headsets.

  • R&DS&T selects RAND Corp. to operate new DHS research center

    DHS has selected the RAND Corporation to operate the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC), which will conduct technical and operational research and analysis to aid the department. The new center is a federally funded research and development center, and is funded under a five-year contract worth as much as $494.7 million.

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  • R&DSizable increase in U.S. R&D spending

    U.S. research and development (R&D) performance rose to $477.7 billion in 2014 — an increase of $21.1 billion over the previous year — and is estimated to hit $499.3 billion in 2015. adjusted for inflation, growth in U.S. total R&D performance averaged 1.2 percent annually between 2008 and 2014, matching the average pace of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

  • BiohackingBuilding a biosafety and biosecurity toolkit for a safer gene editing research

    A new DARPA program could help unlock the potential of advanced gene editing technologies by developing a set of tools to address potential risks of this rapidly advancing field. The Safe Genes program envisions addressing key safety gaps by using those tools to restrict or reverse the propagation of engineered genetic constructs. Safe Genes was inspired in part by recent advances in the field of “gene drives,” which can alter the genetic character of a population of organisms by ensuring that certain edited genetic traits are passed down to almost every individual in subsequent generations.

  • BiohackingGrowing concern about amateur “biohackers” creating biological weapons

    American and European security agencies have been increasingly focusing on the risk that “biohackers” – scientists who use genome-editing techniques to change life forms by increasing or decreasing the function of genes — could develop biological weapons or other dangerous biological substances. The problem is not only – or even mostly – with the work of professional scientists. Rather, the real danger lies with amateur scientists around the world who have started to use gene-editing techniques after the tools became cheap and readily available.

  • BiohackingKeeping pace with the fast-developing science of gene drives

    The emerging science of gene drives is drawing attention for its potential to help with critical health issues such as mosquito-borne diseases and environmental concerns such as agricultural pests and invasive species. At its most basic, a gene drive operates outside the traditional realm of genetics, in which an offspring has a 50-50 chance of inheriting a trait from one of its parents. A gene drive introduces a trait that will spread — or drive — through a population. “The science of gene drives is moving very fast,” says an expert. “[O]ur ability to assess the risks of gene drives, to oversee them with regulatory agencies, and to have a public discussion around gene drives is falling behind the science — We don’t want to wait until we have the technology in front of us to have discussions about regulation, oversight, ethics, and engagement.”

  • Food securityNew Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences announced

    The National Academy of Sciences announced the creation of a new prize, the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences, to be presented annually beginning in 2017 with an award of $100,000. The NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences will recognize research by a mid-career scientist at a U.S. institution who has made an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production.

  • Gene drivesThree ways synthetic biology could annihilate Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases

    By Andrew Maynard

    There are tried and tested approaches in the arsenal of weapons against the mosquito-borne disease, but to combat Zika and other mosquito-borne disease, more is needed. Gene drives, synthetic biology-based genetic engineering techniques, offer one solution by reengineering mosquitoes or obliterating them altogether. Yet we still have only the vaguest ideas of how the systems we’re hacking by using gene drives actually work. It’s as if we’ve been given free rein to play with life’s operating system code, but unlike computers, we don’t have the luxury of rebooting when things go wrong. As enthusiasm grows over the use of synthetic biology to combat diseases like Zika, greater efforts are needed to understand what could go wrong, who and what might potentially be affected, and how errors will be corrected.

  • Gene drivesGene-drive modified organisms not yet ready to be released into environment: Scientists

    The emerging science of gene drives has the potential to address environmental and public health challenges, but gene-drive modified organisms are not ready to be released into the environment and require more research in laboratories and highly controlled field trials, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • Policy makingDo think-tanks matter? Expert says “think again”

    A recently published study found that public sector workers judged studies and reports generated by scholars affiliated with universities to be more credible than reports or studies purported to be from a think-tank or advocacy group.

  • R&DDHS report highlights R&D priorities for technologies used in the field

    The Department of Homeland Security has released the Integrated Product Teams for Department of Homeland Security R&D Fiscal Year 2016 Report. The report identifies twenty-four focus areas for technological research and development (R&D), which fall under five mission areas: aviation security, biological threats, border security, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism.

  • R&DU.S. R&D increased in 2013, ahead of the pace of gross domestic product

    U.S. expenditures in research and development (R&D) rose to $456.1 billion in 2013 — a $20.7 billion increase over the previous year, according to a report from the National Science Foundation. The R&D system in the U.S. includes multiple performers, including businesses, the federal government, non-federal government, universities and colleges, and other nonprofit organizations.

  • R&DU.S. science and technology leadership challenged by advances in Asia

    According to the latest federal data, the U.S. science and engineering (S&E) enterprise still leads the world. The United States invests the most in research and development (R&D), produces the most advanced degrees in science and engineering and high-impact scientific publications, and remains the largest provider of information, financial, and business services. However, Southeast, South, and East Asia continue to rapidly ascend in many aspects of S&E. The region now accounts for 40 percent of global R&D, with China as the stand-out as it continues to strengthen its global S&E capacity. At the same time that China and South Korea have continued to increase their R&D investments, the United States’ longstanding commitment to federal government-funded R&D is wavering.

  • Nuclear powerWith plutonium-238 sample, ORNL restores U.S. capability dormant for nearly thirty years

    With the production of fifty grams of plutonium-238, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have restored a U.S. capability dormant for nearly thirty years and set the course to provide power for NASA and other missions. There are currently only thirty-five kilograms, or about seventy-seven pounds, of plutonium-238 set aside for NASA missions, and only about half of this supply meets power specifications. This is only sufficient to power two to three proposed NASA missions through the middle of the 2020s.

  • CybersecurityNSF awards $74.5 million to 257 interdisciplinary cybersecurity research projects

    The NSF the other day announced the awarding $74.5 million in research grants through the NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program. In total, the SaTC investments include a portfolio of 257 new projects to researchers in thirty-seven states. The largest, multi-institutional awards include research better to understand and offer reliability to new forms of digital currency known as cryptocurrencies, which use encryption for security; invent new technology to broadly scan large swaths of the Internet and automate the detection and patching of vulnerabilities; and establish the “science of censorship resistance” by developing accurate models of the capabilities of censors.