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Lack of Science Leadership

The Biden Administration's science plans may be constrained by a lack of leadership in that space, the New York Times writes.

It notes that there are no permanent leaders in place at the National Institutes of Health, as Francis Collins recently stepped down from his position after 12 years, or at the Food and Drug Administration, as Robert Califf, who was nominated to the position, has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Additionally, Eric Lander resigned this week as White House science advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy after revelations that he bullied colleagues. At the same time, the Times notes that Xavier Becerra, the health and human services secretary, has kept a "low profile."

All this, the Times says, could make it challenging to achieve the administration's science agenda. It notes that the White House recently announced the re-launch of the cancer moonshot program and is working to secure funding for a health initiative modeled on DARPA, while the House of Representatives and the Senate work to reconcile their research funding bills.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.