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The main historical building of the National Institutes of Health

The US National Institutes of Health, located in Bethesda, Maryland, is the world's largest funder of biomedical research.Credit: Grandbrothers/Alamy

Landmark open-science mandate from NIH

In January 2023, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will begin requiring most of the 300,000 researchers and 2,500 institutions it funds annually to include a data-management plan in their grant applications — and to eventually make their data publicly available. The data-sharing policy could set a global standard for biomedical research, scientists say. But critics worry that the policy might exacerbate existing inequities in the science-funding landscape and could be a burden for early-career scientists, who do the lion’s share of data collection and are already stretched thin.

Nature | 6 min read

COVID reinfections surge during Omicron

Since the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first detected, the number of people reinfected with the coronavirus has been rising sharply — a trend that was not observed with previous variants. Scientists say the new variant is probably driving the surge because it can evade the body’s immune defences. And research has shown that immunity acquired through previous infection is less effective against Omicron than against other variants, but the risk of severe COVID-19 remains low.

Nature | 4 min read

References: NEJM paper

Open-access publishing fees pose barriers

Open-access papers have drastically fewer lead authors from low-income regions than do paywalled articles. An analysis of tens of thousands of articles suggests that the fees that journals charge to publish articles open access pose a barrier for authors in these regions. “One of the great ironies of open access is that you grant authors around the world the ability to finally read the scientific literature that was completely closed off to them, but it ends up excluding them from publishing in the same journals,” says Emilio Bruna, an ecologist and scholar of Latin American studies.

Nature | 4 min read

Reference: Quantitative Science Studies paper

Australia will close largest coal plant early

Australia plans to shut down its largest coal-fired power plant in 2025, seven years earlier than planned. Origin Energy’s decision to close its Eraring station is the latest in a series of announcements of early coal-plant closures in Australia, prompted by the accelerated roll-out of cheaper renewable energy. “The reality is the economics of coal-fired power stations are being put under increasing, unsustainable pressure by cleaner and lower cost generation, including solar, wind and batteries,” said Origin Energy’s chief executive Frank Calabria. The closure will cause problems for the grid if not replaced, said the region’s energy minister, who promised the state would build the “biggest battery in the southern hemisphere” in response.

The Guardian | 6 min read

Features & opinion

How Black Panther inspired a homecoming

Seeing the film Black Panther triggered a realization for molecular biologist and entrepreneur Khady Sall about returning to Senegal after studying for her PhD in the United States. “The vision it portrays — of how local language, culture and ancestral knowledge can be integrated with science — was something I had spoken about at many conferences,” she writes. “About two months later, I woke up one day and bought a plane ticket home.” Development in Africa won’t succeed if it only aims to emulate what has been achieved outside the continent, she argues. “Sustainable development has to be rooted in the culture, preserving local languages and integrating ancestral practices that are good for the environment. It has to resemble you and where you want your country to go.”

Nature | 5 min read

Podcast: How to find your place in industry

Looking for your first scientific role in industry? Choose wisely, say contributors to the Nature Careers podcast. Start-ups can be fun; medium-sized companies suit fast learners; multinationals are well resourced, but their internal processes can be hard to navigate.

Nature Careers Podcast | 14 min listen

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