Today, science works on a research chimp retirement plan, develops a portable disease-detector, gears up to talk chemistry in Germany, and finds out why all that poo-pitching practice doesn’t make chimps better throwers.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to retire most of its chimps from research
Two years after the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that the majority of biomedical research on chimps be cut back, and two weeks after Fish and Wildlife Services called for the protection of all chimps as endangered (including those in captivity), the NIH announces it will move 310 federal research chimps to sanctuaries (after the completion of current research projects in the next year or two), and retain the remaining 50 only for research that can’t be conducted any other way.
More than 150 former research chimps are already living at Chimp Haven—the legally designated national sanctuary—in Louisiana. Some of the 310 will likely join them there, but the NIH must also find additional sanctuary space, and is approaching its $30 million limit for chimp retirement. One potential avenue is to convert labs to sanctuaries.
However, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, which has 91 chimps supported by NIH, says the reserve colony of 50 isn’t enough for crucial research on diseases that kill both humans and apes. There are still approximately 500 chimps owned by pharmaceutical companies and private research centers.
UW and partners receive $9.6 million from the DoD to develop a handheld, paper-based test for disease
The goal is to make a device that is cheap, unpowered, as easy to use as a home pregnancy test, and capable of detecting a variety of diseases. This could help people who need a diagnosis but are miles from a lab. The Two Dimensional Paper Network (2DPN) would indicate the presence of a pathogen with a pattern of colored dots—which the user could photograph and send to a lab or doctor for diagnosis, or have interpreted by software. This is the second phase of the project, which received $4 million in 2011.
The focus of this year’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is chemistry
This year’s meeting brings 35 laureates and 625 young researchers from 78 countries to Germany’s Lindau Island from June 30 - July 5. Take a peek at Scientific American’s 30 under 30 series, which profiles some of the remarkable young chemists attending this event.
A study of college athletes suggests our ability to throw is about 2 million years old
Shockingly, we’re a whole lot better at throwing baseballs than chimps. Because of the shape of the human shoulder, a pitcher can cock his or her arm back, storing elastic energy in the tendons, ligaments and muscles, and our flexible waists allow for torso rotation, adding more stored energy. The catapult-like release of this energy is what allows us to accomplish things like a 100mph fastball—and long ago, probably helped homo erectus snag some dinner.
This Humane Society video shows some retired research chimps entering Chimp Haven for their first time back in March: