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Some 'Condemning' NAS for Hosting Templeton Prize Announcement

Nature reports that this year's Templeton Prize winner, Francisco Ayala, professor at the University of California, Irvine, is accepting the prize of about $1.53 million amid some controversy. The annual prize is intended to honor one "who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works," and awards a monetary value that "is set always to exceed the Nobel Prizes to underscore [John] Templeton's belief that benefits from discoveries that illuminate spiritual questions can be quantifiably more vast than those from other worthy human endeavors." According to Nature, some researchers are "condemning" the National Academy of Sciences, which hosted the award announcement on March 25. Richard Dawkins says that in hosting the announcement for Ayala, who was ordained as a Dominican priest, the NAS "has brought ignominy on itself." According to Nature, however, former NAS President Bruce Alberts called Ayala "the leading crusader against damage and confusion caused when religious movements attempt to substitute meanings for scientific understanding." Blogger PZ Myers at Pharyngula calls the awardee "a politically brilliant choice" for the prize.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.