Oxford’s dependence on EU funds revealed

first_img“I have no reason to assume this will not be the case.“In the future, the implications are serious. Despite reassurances that the UK government is committed to funding science, and indeed that the science budget is now protected in real terms, this does not match the experience of those of us working in fundamental ‘blue skies’ science.“A lot of funding is now being channelled through innovation and overseas development calls… So the reality is that the funding for basic blue skies science is diminishing and we are increasingly dependent on the ERC to provide this.“In terms of EU programmes, obviously it will be difficult to remain engaged at the same level without direct access to EU funding (we briefly experienced this following the Brexit vote when UK involvement became toxic due to fears it could jeopardise bids).“Collaboration is key to much of what we do, so withdrawal from EU programmes is a real issue. That said, we do manage to collaborate with programmes in the US and elsewhere through the Natural Environment Research Council and other funding, so while the situation will become significantly more challenging, this will not be the end to collaboration with the EU.”A spokesperson for Oxford University said: “The University has strong research collaborations and partnerships across the European Union which we are determined to maintain and build on.“It was encouraging to see December’s Phase I agreement state that the UK will continue to have full access to Horizon 2020 research funding until the closure of these programmes in 2020.“This means that our researchers will be able to continue to apply for European funding until the end of 2020.“However, the University is actively working for continued access to European research funding beyond 2020 and, more importantly, the free flow of knowledge and ideas that research partnerships can inspire.“We are therefore working towards a Brexit settlement which will allow the University to continue to participate in future EU Framework programmes and conduct world-class collaborative research; host European Research Council grants; co-ordinate and host collaborative European projects and infrastructures; recruit and retain the best staff regardless of nationality; and recruit the best students regardless of nationality.”The latest figures on British participation in Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme, showed that the University of Oxford receives the highest share of funding not just in the UK, but across the whole of the European Union.Commenting on the publication of the data, Oxford University’s Head of Brexit Strategy, Professor Alastair Buchan, said: “The European framework programmes have been vital to research at Oxford, and have helped establish the University as one of the very best in the world.“The benefit of this to the UK cannot be overestimated, and the current high standing of UK universities is undoubtedly at risk as a result of the UK leaving the European Union, whether our exit be hard or soft.” The European Union provides over half of the external research funding for several Oxford departments, Cherwell can exclusively reveal.The findings raise further concerns over the post-Brexit future of Oxford’s world-leading research, though the University stressed that they are “determined to maintain and build on” their European links.The data, obtained by a Freedom of Information request sent by Cherwell, showed that EU funding to University departments in 2016/17 had increased by more than eight per cent over two years.However, there was a wide disparity in different faculties’ reliance on European funds.The Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics has the highest reliance on EU income. Over the last three financial years they received more than £1.5 million in EU funds, equivalent to 75 per cent of their external research income.In the social sciences, the Centre of Criminology’s figure was 53 per cent while the Department of Sociology’s totalled 43 per cent.Professor Melinda Mills, head of the Department of Sociology, told Cherwell: “The ERC has been essential to social science funding in the UK and Europe since we receive an almost equal amount as the other sciences. This is often not the case with national science foundations where the social sciences receive often less than 10%.”She continued: “It is our hope that the UK continues to participate in the next European framework programme and in particular allows the freedom of movement of academics to work at Oxford in these innovative projects.”The Department of Economics and the Department of Politics and International Relations had smaller but still significant figures, with 26 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.A spokesperson for the Department of Economics told Cherwell: “In the long-term, it is important for the Department of Economics, as for the University of Oxford as a whole, that agreement is reached on the UK’s continued participation in EU funding for research.” The humanities, too, are subject to large EU research funding. The figure for the Medieval and Modern Languages Faculty is almost 40 per cent while the History and English faculties’ budgets showed 34 and 24 per cent respectively.Science departments also show significant reliance on European funds. The sub-department of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry’s EU income came to 42 percent of their external research income, with Organic Chemistry’s being 30 per cent and Chemical Biology 38 per cent.The Department of Physics received a particularly high amount of EU income. EU funding for Theoretical Physics amounted to 56 per cent of their external research funding, while Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics had an average of 31 per cent.The Department of Computer Science – which vice chancellor Louise Richardson described in 2016 as “the department most dependent on European Research Council funding” – received over £8 million from EU grants over the last three financial years. Meanwhile, the Mathematical Institute’s funding stood at 27 per cent of their external research funding.Despite these figures and the UK’s impending exit from the European Union, the tens of millions coming into Oxford departments from the EU are secure for now.According to EU and UK government officials’ joint report on the end of the first phase of Brexit negotiations, British participation in programmes funded under the EU’s research framework looks set to be supported until 2020.However, the future of the University’s research funding is less clear beyond that.Professor David Marshall, head of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, which has secured millions from EU research funds over the last five years, told Cherwell: “The current grants should not be affected, assuming that the UK government keeps its promise to underwrite awards already made.last_img read more

"Oxford’s dependence on EU funds revealed"

Two generations of spread possible in Indonesia H5N1 cases

first_imgMay 24, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – For the first time, evidence suggests that the H5N1 avian influenza virus may have passed from one person to another and on to a third, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) official.Referring to the extended-family case cluster in Indonesia, the WHO’s Maria Cheng told the Canadian Press (CP) yesterday, “This is the first time we have seen cases that have gone beyond one generation of human-to-human spread.”The WHO said in an online statement yesterday that analysis of viruses from patients in the cluster had shown no evidence of changes that could lead to efficient human-to-human transmission. But another WHO official expressed serious concern about the cluster.Peter Cordingley, spokesman for the WHO’s Western Pacific region, quoted in a Reuters report today, said, “This is the most significant development so far in terms of public health. We have never had a cluster as large as this. We have not had in the past what we have here, which is no explanation as to how these people became infected [in the first place]. We can’t find sick animals in this community, and that worries us.”CDC director not alarmedIn a news briefing this afternoon, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) generally echoed the WHO’s message of yesterday that the cluster appears to involve person-to-person transmission but that there is no sign of transmission beyond the cluster and no evidence of changes in the virus.”There’s a lot more science to be done, but the early indication is we’re not seeing anything that would be sending up an alarm,” Dr. Julie Gerberding said from Geneva, where she is attending the WHO’s annual meeting. She added, “We understand we can’t be complacent about this.”The cluster includes seven confirmed cases in an extended family, six of which were fatal. All of these followed a similar illness in a 37-year-old woman who died and was buried without being tested for avian flu. The WHO regards her illness as the index case.Although other officials have said investigators have not been able to find a possible animal source for the index patient’s infection, Gerberding said today, “Clearly the source of infection likely was an infected poultry exposure.”Concurring with the view that at least two generations of transmission occurred, she added, “The person who initially got the infection from poultry may have been the source of transmission to other family members, and there may have been subsequent transmission to other family members.” She said the family members had close contact with one another, and there have been no infections in healthcare workers or others outside the family.Gerberding said that a two-generation, or “person-to-person-to-person,” transmission chain is significant in that it raises the “worrisome possibility” of a change in the virus, but added that investigators have not found evidence of a change.She also said the cluster is not the first example of probable person-to-person transmission of the virus. “This probably the third example where we’ve seen pretty good evidence of human-to-human transmission,” she told reporters.Gerberding described the people in the cluster as “all related by blood,” implying the possibility of genetic susceptibility to the virus. She said it is possible there are some people “who are more susceptible to transmission because of the unique makeup of their respiratory tract. . . . We have no evidence of this, but we have to examine that hypothesis.”The CDC head said the genetic sequencing of viruses from the cluster so far has yielded four main findings:The isolates are all “virtually identical,” implying a single source.They are susceptible to the antiviral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir).”There is no evidence of motif changes in the particular areas of the genes that are responsible for how the virus binds to the respiratory tract of people.”The isolates are very similar to viruses previously collected from poultry in the region.Gerberding said the cluster occurred in “a Christian community in a pretty remote area on an outlying island.” Both traditional and western medical techniques are used in the village. Contrary to some recent reports, she said the local residents have shown “enormous cooperation” with the WHO investigators, at least in the past few days.Raising the pandemic alert level?The Indonesian cluster has triggered talk about the possibility of the WHO’s changing its pandemic alert status from phase 3 to phase 4 on its 6-phase scale, with phase 6 being a full-blown pandemic. A WHO task force would have to meet and make this decision.”Right now,” said the WHO’s Cheng in a Reuters story today, “it does not look like the task force will need to meet immediately, but this is subject to change, depending on what comes out of Indonesia.”But the WHO’s pandemic alert system lacks specific criteria for elevating the alert level, according to Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, which publishes the CIDRAP Web site.”I’m personally confused about the difference in what a phase 3 and phase 4 alert level is,” he said today. “The WHO has not clearly described the difference.”That’s important. I’m personally aware of a number of companies that have pegged certain levels of their pandemic flu plan based on a change from phase 3 to phase 4. And I’m not sure a change in the alert level would warrant a change in pandemic planning.”The WHO Global Influenza Preparedness Plan (see link below) defines phase 3 as “human infection(s) with a new subtype, but no human-to-human spread, or at most rare instances of spread to a close contact.”Phase 4 is characterized by “small cluster(s) with limited human-to-human transmission, but spread is highly localized, suggesting that the virus is not well adapted to humans.”The WHO plan further states, “The distinction between phase 3, phase 4, and phase 5is based on an assessment of the risk of a pandemic. . . . Factors may include rate of transmission, geographical location and spread, severity of illness, presence of genes from human strains (if derived from an animal strain), and/or other scientific parameters.”News editor Robert Roos contributed to this article.See also:WHO’s May 23 Indonesia updatehttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_05_23/en/index.htmlWHO Global Influenza Preparedness Planhttp://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/influenza/WHO_CDS_CSR_GIP_2005_5.pdflast_img read more

"Two generations of spread possible in Indonesia H5N1 cases"

Coronavirus pandemic makes more people vulnerable to trafficking, says annual US report

first_imgIt said Beijing had expanded this campaign into other provinces and begun implementing it among other religious minorities. China denies mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.Pompeo, in remarks on the report, singled out China, “where the Chinese Communist Party and its state-owned enterprises often force citizens to work in horrendous conditions on Belt and Road projects,” he said, referring to an infrastructure project to link China with other parts of Asia and Europe.The report also took aim at Hong Kong, which US President Donald Trump has threatened to strip of economic privileges over China’s tightened grip on the former British colony.Hong Kong, alongside Pakistan, was downgraded to the report’s “Tier 2 Watch List,” a category denoting those meriting special scrutiny, on the grounds that it had failed to enact legislation to fully criminalize trafficking.Saudi Arabia, a major US ally and arms buyer that was last year https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-humantrafficking/u-s-human-trafficking-report-drops-child-separation-warning-idUSKCN1TL2IV placed on the list of countries that failed to meet minimum US anti-trafficking standards, was upgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List.Afghanistan, a US ally in the fight against the Taliban, and Nicaragua were both demoted in this year’s report to Tier 3, falling into the lowest category, which can bring restrictions on US non-humanitarian, non-trade-related assistance, a decision that would be made by the president.  The novel coronavirus pandemic had made more people vulnerable to human trafficking, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday as an annual US report added Afghanistan and Nicaragua to a list of worst offenders while Saudi Arabia was upgraded.”Instability and lack of access to critical services caused by the pandemic mean that the  number of people vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers is rapidly growing,” Pompeo said in the annual US State Department Trafficking in Persons report.The report kept China, a persistent target for criticism by Pompeo, on the lowest rung and again highlighted widespread use of forced labor, including through what the United States and human rights groups say is the mass detention in camps of more than one million minority Muslims. Topics :last_img read more

"Coronavirus pandemic makes more people vulnerable to trafficking, says annual US report"