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The Christmas Deadline

It seems no one is happy with the US debt deal — especially the research community. Both scientists and lobbyists say that prospective cuts in government spending may compromise disease research and hamper the careers of young researchers, say Bloomberg's Elizabeth Lopatto and Brian Faler. If Congress doesn't approve $1.5 trillion in cuts by Christmas, automatic cuts will go into effect that will affect NIH, NSF, and the US Department of Energy. In the debt deal reached last week, it was agreed that a special committee would convene to agree on specific cuts. In the hope of forcing the bipartisan commission to work together on lowering the deficit, the deal includes a provision for deep cuts to many government agencies that will go into effect automatically should the committee fail to agree on specific cuts, Lopatto and Faler say. If a deal is not reached, non-defense government programs like NIH will automatically receive a 7.9 percent budget cut in 2013 — that would amount to $2.5 billion for NIH, the largest budget reduction in the agency's history, they add. Experts say that if that were to happen, new grant proposals would be slashed to a large degree, and researchers would most likely opt for more conservative, proven research in order to win more funding.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.