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STAT creates fellowship named for reporter Sharon Begley

STAT is launching the Sharon Begley-STAT Science Reporting Fellowship, in honor of acclaimed science reporter Sharon Begley, who died earlier this year from complications of lung cancer. The 9-month fellowship, funded by a $225,000-grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for the first two years, is being offered jointly with MIT's Knight Science Journalism program. The fellowship is designed for early-career individuals who are also from racial and ethnic communities underrepresented in the field. Gideon Gil, one of STAT's managing editors, says that as one of the early women in science journalism, "Sharon really worked toward making this a more inclusive profession." She was not only a model for those in that path but also a mentor, and this fellowship, which helps carry on that work "pays tribute to her.”

WHO announces simpler naming system for keeping up with Covid variants

The WHO just announced a new naming system to help with the confusing nomenclature of coronavirus variants. Instead of the alphanumeric and punctuation-ridden versions used so far, each variant will instead be given a name from the Greek alphabet. In addition to simplifying the way variants are referred to, the hope is that the new system will also strip away some stigma experienced by countries in which variants have emerged. B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in Britain, will be known as Alpha, for instance, while the B.1.671.2 variant, first identified in India and the fourth variant overall, is Delta. Once the 24 Greek letters have been exhausted, the WHO will come up with another system to name additional variants. 

Biden's budget proposal includes major increases for science, scientific agencies

President Biden unveiled his budget proposal for 2022 on Friday. Notable within the $6 trillion plan are sizable increases to science budgets. Spending for basic research would see a 10% hike, topping $47 billion, while applied research funding would see a 14% increase, to more than $51 billion. In the budget proposal, the NIH and CDC would each receive more than 20% increases in their annual budgets. Notably, the NIH's increased budget, if approved, would fund a new center specifically aimed at curing cancer and other diseases, while the CDC's added funding would help shore up public health infrastructure. The proposal will now be reviewed by lawmakers, and the final version is almost certainly likely to be vastly different than the current draft.

Inside STAT: New pediatricians see fewer routine cases, but many mental health crises


Conditions considered to be the mainstay of pediatrics — things like ear infections or the flu — were rare sightings in hospitals in the wake of the pandemic. Instead, pediatricians-in-training have been seeing more mental health conditions such as eating disorders, which were historically infrequent. This shuffling of conditions has meant that clinicians are advancing in their careers without a good sense of pediatrics' "bread and butter" cases. This is raising concerns among some pediatricians-in-training about whether what they learned in medical school will sufficiently help them in their practice if they don't have hands-on training with treating routine conditions. Read more from STAT's Theresa Gaffney here

Eric Lander confirmed as new head of White House science office

The U.S. Senate on Friday unanimously confirmed Eric Lander as the new head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lander was most recently the president of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. In April, Lander weathered intense questioning from the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, including about his brief contact with Jeffrey Epstein and his record of inadvertently downplaying the contributions of Nobel laureates Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier in the development of CRISPR for gene editing. As science adviser to the Biden administration and now a Cabinet member, Lander is expected to help advance the White House's research agenda across a range of fields including health care and climate change. 

Socioeconomic disparities for respiratory health have worsened over the past 60 years

A new study finds that socioeconomic disparities may have worsened when it comes to respiratory health. Scientists looked at data from nearly 216,000 individuals who were surveyed as part of a large, national survey on health between 1959 and 2018. Socioeconomic-based disparities worsened over time: Between 1971 and 1975, for example, nearly 45% of those in the lowest income quintile reported difficulty breathing upon exertion, compared to around 26% of those in the highest quintile. But by the 2017 to 2018 period, this 18-percentage point difference widened to a more than 20-point difference between the lowest and highest income brackets. Disparities in cough and wheezing also rose over time, as did asthma among children — especially poorer children — after 1980. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 5,735
Deaths yesterday: 138

Vaccine doses distributed, per CDC366,316,945
Total doses administered: 294,928,850

What to read around the web today

  • Johnson & Johnson asks high court to void $2B talc verdict. Associated Press
  • My whole family was infected in India’s devastating coronavirus surge. Not all survived. The Washington Post
  • Amgen wins FDA approval for first KRAS-blocking lung cancer drug. STAT+
  • A vaccine side effect leaves women wondering: Why isn’t the pill safer? The New York Times
  • Opinion: SARS-CoV-2 brought the world to its knees. Its digital twin is helping bring us back. STAT+
  • How private equity killed a hospital. The New Yorker

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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