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France Córdova Takes Top Spot at NSF

The US Senate confirmed last night France Córdova as the new director of the National Science Foundation, ScienceInsider reports. She was nominated for a six-year term.

Córdova, the Nature News Blog notes, was most recently the chair of the board of regents that oversees the Smithsonian Institution and a member of the National Science Board that oversees NSF.

President Obama nominated Córdova, an astrophysicist, to run the agency over the summer after Subra Suresh stepped down from the post last March to become president of Carnegie Mellon University. In the interim, Cora Marrett has been the acting director of NSF; she will remain the deputy NSF director, ScienceInsider notes.

Córdova tells Nature that there needs to be better communication from NSF about the basic research it supports. "We have to better explain why we do what we do,” she says.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.