Weekly news round-up: medical research funding cuts, Albert Einstein and Facebook bullying

IN our news wraps, we give you more than just the headlines. This week, we want to know your thoughts on the Federal Government’s proposed medical research cuts and the recent Facebook comments crises. We also want you to join us in paying tribute to scientific genius Albert Einstein.


Medical research funding cuts

PROTESTERS rallied across Australia last week to speak out against the Federal Government’s proposed $400 million health research funding cuts.

In Melbourne alone, more than 4000 people donned white coats and chanted, “Cures not cuts”. There were also plenty of posters with slogans like ‘SOS – Save our Science’ and ‘Diseases need Dollars’.

Protesters rallying outside the State Library over proposed funding cuts to medical research. Photo: Jonathan Chee

Protesters rallying outside the State Library over proposed funding cuts to medical research. Photo: Jonathan Chee

The Federal Government intends to take the money from the National Health and Research Council over the next four years. The council supports research into all public health sectors including mental health and basic influenza vaccines to emergency care and stem cell research.

Members of the council have already warned the government any cuts to medical research will not only affect researchers and medical practitioners, but also people with diseases and their families.

Wearing your heart on your sleeve. Photo: Jonathan Chee

Wearing your heart on your sleeve. In Melbourne alone, more than 4000 people donned white coats and chanted, “Cures not cuts”. Photo: Jonathan Chee

Speaking at the rally, The Australian Medical Association’s Western Australia president David Mountain said the cuts would also destroy Australia’s reputation as a world class research nation.

The government will announce its decision in next month’s budget.


A tribute to Albert Einstein

Tributes have poured in for the ‘Father of Modern Physics’ Albert Einstein on the 90th anniversary of his Nobel Prize win.

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his service to theoretical physics and his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect. But the rather eccentric-haired scientist is best known for his work on the theory of general relativity and the Manhattan Project, which eventually produced the first atomic bomb.

He died in 1955.


Social networking bullying

And finally, Facebook and MySpace fans should think twice about divulging their most intimate secrets following recent reports of abuse and cyberbullying.

Members of the Australian Defence Force have been accused this week of making homosexual slurs against their colleagues on social networking sites. Those involved created a Facebook page to out and intimidate gay personnel who were serving or had served in the ADF.

The allegations comes as a senior Melbourne academic said she also felt threatened by comments made by a well-known artist on Facebook. The head of RMIT’s fine art department, Elizabeth Grierson, took an intervention order out against  Australian artist Steve Cox after he criticized her and the university.

In a statement, Ms Grierson said she feared for her safety because Mr Cox’s art suggested an obsession with murder. But the judge made an unlikely ruling, telling Ms Grierson to not visit Mr Cox’s personal Facebook page for the next 20 years.

Both cases are a good reminder that we should all be careful about what we write on social networking sites. No matter how hard you try to keep your page private, your comments can and do still get out into the Internet, where they might be read by family, friends and employers.

Cyberbully also destroys lives and no wants to reads nasty comments about themselves online. Never write something about someone else that you wouldn’t want to be said about yourself.

Do you think there should be stricter rules about what people can write on Facebook?

There are 4 comments

  1. Mary Hogkins

    Re Grierson and Cox. Imagine if everyone took an intervention order out on someone every time they were “offended” on facebook. The Magistrates court would be VERY busy!

    I beleive, Grierson had attempted to stiffle free speech by bullying Steve Cox, who had been sacked for supporting students rights with an intervention order, and with sending police to his home to deliver it. It was a way to make an example of him.

    The point driven home in summary from the age and related media, about being careful about what you say on the internet, has nothing to do with the real issues of this case which has more to do with stifling the voice of political dissent. – This is a supposedly free thinking university and an fine art course we are taking about. The name of this much loved teacher and artist has been cleared of these ridiculous charges and the “victim” ordered not to look at his page for the next 20 years! The result is a VICTORY for Steve Cox who campaigned in support of his students right to have a say in their education, for artists concerned about issues relating to freedom of speech and RMIT fine art students protesting slashes to the fine art course. Using RMIT laywers to take out intevention orders against loved teachiing staff, is an insult on injury to students who are at the end of the day paying for the cost.

  2. noratmedicine

    Please fund valid research only, most goes to animal experiments, we want human not mouse cures…1998

    My own medical perspective is that animal cancer research should be regarded as the scientific equivalent of gossip – with about the same chance of turning out to be true, i.e. truly effective in humans. Some gossip turns out to be true, but most of it does not…and gossip can cause great anguish for those affected, in this case millions of desperate cancer patients worldwide. G. Timothy Johnson MD, Boston Globe, May 22.

    The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans. Dr Richard Klausner, Director, National Cancer Institute, LA Times, May 6.

    God knows we’ve cured mice of all sorts of tumours. But that isn’t medical research. Thomas E Wagner, senior scientist at Ohio University’s Edison Biotechnology Institute, the Columbus Dispatch, March 20.2004

    It’s been well known for maybe two decades that many of these preclinical human cancer models have very little predictive power in terms of how actual human beings – actual human tumours inside patients – will respond…Preclinical models of human cancer, in large part, stink…Hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted every year by drug companies using these [animal] models…Prof. Robert Weinberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fortune, 9th March.

    [mouse models are] woefully inadequate…if you look at the millions and millions and millions of mice that have been cured, and you compare that to the relative success, or lack thereof, that we’ve achieved in the treatment of metastatic disease clinically, you realize that there just has to be something wrong with those models. Homer Pearce, research fellow at Eli Lilly. Fortune, 9th March.

  3. Steve Cox

    I think that Mary Hodgkins hit the nail on the head with her comments. As the artist involved in the case that RMIT tried to bring against me, I can report that there is a pattern emerging from this university. Only yesterday, a student in another department within RMIT had an intervention order dropped against him, also. His crime? He had asked questions about the proposed restructure of his course area. This is exactly the same as I did myself about the Fine Art area. It seems that RMIT no longer upholds the time-honoured tradition of universities being places where people have a right to voice questions and seek answers. What a shame!

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