The News – 05 Feb 2015

Overview

  • An award-winning evolutionary biologist has turned down the most prestigious research fellowship for young scientists in the country in frustration at funding cuts.
  • Growing pressure on the South Australian health budget is why services will be wound down at the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park in Adelaide’s south, Health Minister Jack Snelling says.
  • Britain has become the first country in the world to allow the creation of babies with DNA from three people, after MPs voted for the controversial procedure.



News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 5th February 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-03/scientist-shuns-top-fellowship-in-frustration-over-funding-cuts/6067612

An award-winning evolutionary biologist has turned down the most prestigious research fellowship for young scientists in the country in frustration at funding cuts.

Dr Danielle Edwards specialises in reptiles and researches how genetic diversity is affected by factors like the environment.

She said her work fed into important questions around what species could survive extinction and why.

For the past four years Dr Edwards has been applying for research positions in Australia, but for most of that time she has only been able to get work in the United States.

Recently she was invited to apply for a position at the CSIRO, but before the interviewing process had concluded the job itself was gone.

“When the Abbott Government came in and put a freeze on CSIRO hiring, that search was subsequently cancelled. I was no longer able to apply,” she said.

Now Dr Edwards has been offered a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) by the Australian Research Council, a hugely competitive award worth $385,000.

But Dr Edwards has chosen to turn it down.

She said the most recent round of funding cuts to science and the prospect of university fee deregulation meant she saw no future in Australian science.

Dr Edwards said optimism for the future was not great for people who wanted to work in academia and science in Australia.

“The lack of government support that seems to be continuing and getting worse with the closure of CSIRO positions all over the place in general, I think, it’s going to be really hard for Australian scientists to produce world-class research going into the future,” she said.

Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Science and Technology Australia which represents more than 68,000 scientists around Australia, said the community expected that hard-working people who excelled in their field should be able to get a decent job in their home country.

Dr Jackson said a young career scientist turning down a DECRA was a huge decision.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-04/repatriation-hospital-changes-defended-health-minister-snelling/6068516

Growing pressure on the South Australian health budget is why services will be wound down at the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park in Adelaide’s south, Health Minister Jack Snelling says.

A closure was recommended in a budget review four years ago but dismissed as “dopey” by then-premier Mike Rann.

Now the Transforming Health consultation paper released by the SA Government this week outlines the bleak future facing the ageing Daw Park facility.

But Mr Snelling argued South Australians had not been deceived by the Labor Government.

“Some of our best clinicians in the state are there at the Repatriation General Hospital [but] unfortunately, the way our health system’s configured, it doesn’t allow them to do that job as consistently as they should be able to,” he said.

“That requires some serious ‘surgery’ to the way our health system [is] currently configured, including moving services off the Repat site and onto brand new rehabilitation facilities.”

The Returned Services League (RSL) said it was worried crucial health services for war veterans would be lost when the Repat Hospital was wound down.

The health plan said the rehabilitation services currently at the Repat, Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and Saint Margaret’s Rehabilitation Hospital would be shifted to Adelaide’s major hospitals and a new $15 million centre to replace the Repat Hospital’s ward 17 would treat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Opposition health spokesman Stephen Wade said the impending loss of Repatriation Hospital care showed the State Government was more intent on saving money than lives.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-04/britain-authorises-three-parent-babies/6068160

Britain has become the first country in the world to allow the creation of babies with DNA from three people, after MPs voted for the controversial procedure.

About 2,500 women in Britain are at risk of bearing children with devastating conditions, by passing on faulty mitochondria, the genetic material around a cell’s nucleus.

After years of debate and medical research, British MPs have voted to legalise a technique aimed at preventing serious inherited diseases being passed on from mother to child.

Opponents of the move include scientists and religious leaders, while others fear the change opens the way to the possibility of “designer babies” in future.

Politicians in the House of Commons voted by 382 to 128 in favour of allowing the creation of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) babies with DNA from three people.

Under the change to the laws on IVF, as well as receiving the usual “nuclear” DNA from its mother and father, the embryo would also include a small amount of healthy so-called mDNA from a woman donor.

Researchers say a tiny fraction of the child’s DNA would come from the donor, none determining characteristics or traits.

The bill is expected to be rubber-stamped by the House of Lords, the upper chamber of parliament, later this month, paving way for the procedure to begin next year.

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