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A Stand Against Sequestration

The scientific community is taking action to prevent drastic funding cuts that will be triggered on Jan. 2, 2013, if the US Congress can't agree on a plan to trim $1.2 trillion from the federal budget.

Sequestration would shave $2.4 billion from the National Institutes of Health's 2013 budget and $456 million from the National Science Foundation, according to an analysis from the American Association for the Advancement of Science conducted earlier this year.

Last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science sent a letter to the White House and Congress asking officials to "achieve a bipartisan compromise that avoids the fiscal cliff and moves the country on to sound fiscal footing without sacrificing our nation's crucial investments in science and technology."

Noting that federal funding for science is "not driving our national deficits," AAAS points out that such investments "account for less than one-fifth of the current discretionary budget, but discretionary spending is the only place where deep cuts will be made" under sequestration.

AAAS urges congressional leaders to agree to "a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not simply take an axe to discretionary federal programs without also considering the contributions of tax revenue solutions and entitlement reform in addressing the federal deficit."

Meanwhile, Stand With Science, an advocacy group founded by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is seeking signatures for its own letter to Congress, which similarly asks officials to "work for a bipartisan approach to deficit reduction that will assure, as part of that solution, sound funding for federally-funded research and training for graduate research talent since both are key to America's economic future."

The commercial scientific community is also taking action. Life Technologies has launched an email campaign asking researchers to "take a stand for science" and write to Congress via an online form on the company's website.

The Scan

Guidelines for Ancient DNA Work

More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.