Support for interim CDC head
PUBLIC HEALTH | Public health specialists
are lobbying for Anne Schuchat, currently interim director of the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
to become the agency’s permanent head.
Schuchat, who has worked at CDC since
1988, replaced Brenda Fitzgerald after she
resigned 31 January following a report
in Politico that she had invested in tobacco
companies after taking the job 6 months
ago. Schuchat should be given “strong
consideration to be the permanent CDC
director,” the Association of Schools and
Programs of Public Health, which represents many of the biggest U.S. academic
centers, wrote to the Department of Health
and Human Services, CDC’s parent organization, on 2 February. Schuchat previously
served as an interim director from January
through July 2017.
Massive rocket’s maiden flight
SPACE FLIGHT | The United States’s most
powerful rocket since the Saturn V lifted off
from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
on 6 February. The test launch of the Falcon
Heavy, developed by private space company
SpaceX, could foreshadow new opportunities in astronomy and space exploration.
The 70-meter-tall rocket is designed to
carry payloads of up to 64,000 kilograms A proposal before the Puerto Rican legislature this week would gut he Puerto Rican Institute of Statistics (PRIS), an independent government agency designed to review and analyze statistical data about the island. The measure, part of a larger reorganiza- tion proposed by Governor Ricardo Rosselló, would outsource many of PRIS’s functions to the private sector. Statisticians, re-
searchers, business groups, and even U.S. congressional representatives
have spoken out against the move, saying it threatens the independence
and trustworthiness of data on Puerto Rico during an economic crisis
and ongoing hurricane recovery efforts. “Objective statistical data are
critical, especially in these times for Puerto Rico,” says Steve Pierson,
director of science policy for the American Statistical Association in
Alexandria, Virginia. “From so many angles, this does not seem like
a good proposal.” But Rosselló maintains that outsourcing PRIS’s
functions—while encouraging the U.S. federal government to extend
more of its statistical services to the island—will streamline data col-
lection and free it from political influence by removing it from local
government management. “That would give [the data] the highest level
of independence at this time when we need the most clarity,” he asserts.
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy could carry larger probes.
Edited by Jeffrey Brainard
Number of comments posted since 2013 on PubMed Commons,
a website where scientists could discuss the 28 million articles
indexed in the PubMed database. The site, which did not allow
anonymous comments, is closing because of low participation. 6000
Puerto Rico data source under threat
Debris from Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, remained 4 months later.