Hello there! Did you miss me? I’m kidding. Of course you didn’t. Anyway, I have been really busy in boring academic work (yes, I do have to keep doing what I do at the bench – sigh!), and haven’t found time to sit down and write. This brief interlude hasn’t ended yet, but I am checking in to say a quick ‘Hi!’ to you, and put down a few good news that caught my eyes via the Nature News highlights that comes to my inbox.

1. UK Animal Research Increases Again. As I have said time and again (e.g. see here and here), medical science cannot progress to the benefit of humans and animals without engaging in reasonable animal experimentation. At the same time, animal experimentation must include adequate steps for the welfare of research animals for many reasons. Unfortunately, many passionate animal-rights activists, flocking under a few banners, often tend to be guided more by passion than by reason, which allows them to be manipulated by narrow, scientifically-inaccurate political ideologies. It is good that UK has been able to retain some order of balance, reason and sanity in this matter.

2. Senate bill would boost NIH budget to $31 billion in 2014. Along with many other working scientists in the US, I have been deeply concerned about the status of biomedical research in the times of financial austerity and sequestration (e.g. See here and here). This represents good news, but only partial. The proposed bill has to pass through the Republican-controlled House, and given recent events in politics, I cannot say that consideration inspires any confidence in me. Only time will tell, I guess. I hope the American political leadership wakes up soon to the loss of intellectual capital they are incurring due to the sequester.

3. NIH Sees Surge In Open-Access Manuscripts. This is good news. Open Access is good for science, for scientific research as well as science communication and education. NIH had mandated an Open Access policy for scientific research funded via NIH from public dollars, and it has reported 75-80% compliance. In contrast, UK’s Wellcome Trust reprorts only 55% compliance. Time, methinks, to point at UK and laugh “Ha-Ha” in the voice of Nelson from the Simpsons…

That’s all for today, folks. Oh, before I go, let me tell you about this new effort – which I think has far reaching potential. It is called ScienceGist (you can follow this effort on Twitter @ScienceGist). They aim to provide “ScienceGists” or simply “gists” – simplified, lay-language summaries of scientific papers. It can go a long way in popularizing science and enhancing the understanding of science by people. You can get a free account by signing in with your email, which allows you to up-vote/down-vote these gists that you find easy/difficult to understand. I urge you, do give it a try, talk about it, spread the good word, and of course, contribute your gists. Answering a tweet from ScienceGist yesterday, I contributed my first – on a novel antimicrobial compound isolated from a marine microbe. See you soon! Ta.