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first_imgEASING RESEARCH REGULATION FUSION SCIENCE R&D TAX CREDIT This story is the first in ScienceInsider’s After Election 2014 series. Through Election Day on 4 November, we will periodically examine research issues that will face U.S. lawmakers when they return to Washington, D.C., for a lame-duck session and when a new Congress convenes in January. Click here to see all the stories published so far; click here for a list of published and planned stories.Today, a look at a perennial concern: funding for biomedical science.Biomedical lobbyists are hoping that Congress will soon give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a big budget increase, despite tight caps that lawmakers have placed on overall federal spending. But even if that campaign succeeds—and the odds are very long—victory could come with some undesirable side effects.Before digging into the details, it’s worth noting that trying to predict funding trends can be a fool’s errand. Numerous factors, from domestic politics to foreign crises, affect how Congress divvies up the federal budget pie in any given year.The disintegration of the regular appropriations process, with now-routine extensions beyond the 1 October start of the next fiscal year, makes prognostication even harder. This year, for example, Congress has frozen spending at existing levels until at least mid-December, in part because of uncertainty about whether Republicans will win back the Senate in next month’s election and, with it, control of both houses of Congress come January. And in February, the White House will weigh in when President Barack Obama releases his proposed budget for the 2016 fiscal year (even if there’s been no agreement on the final 2015 budget numbers).Should NIH be exempt?Against that backdrop, a major topic of discussion on all sides will be how to deal with the spending caps mandated under the 2011 Budget Control Act. That law requires annual spending reductions of $110 billion through 2021, which are automatically apportioned across all defense and civilian programs unless Congress acts otherwise. In the spring of 2013, these automatic cuts, known as the sequester, hit some research budgets hard: NIH saw a 5% cut to its $30 billion budget. After a major political showdown, Congress and the White House agreed last December to suspend the sequester for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. But it will come roaring back in FY 2016 (which begins on 1 October 2015).That prospect has research leaders worried—especially about NIH, which accounts for about one-half of all U.S. civilian science spending. They argue that such automatic cuts will only exacerbate what they have dubbed the innovation deficit. That phrase refers to an alleged shortfall in realizing the full potential of scientific advances because of anemic spending on research. In a particularly dramatic example of this line of argument—which some have questioned—NIH Director Francis Collins has said that progress on an Ebola vaccine has been hindered by flat budgets.Similar arguments have gotten a friendly hearing from some members of Congress. A few Democratic legislators, for instance, have suggested exempting NIH from the 2011 law on the grounds that biomedical research is too important to be the victim of arbitrary reductions. Senator Tom Harkin (D–IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D–CT) have sponsored identical bills that would designate NIH as “emergency spending” and boost its authorized budget by 10% annually in 2015 and 2016 and by 5% for each of the next 5 years. “This bill will put a plan in place for the Appropriations Committee to reverse the 10-year retrenchment in biomedical research funding over the remaining years of the Budget Control Act,” Harkin said in July when he introduced the legislation, called the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act.In March, Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL) proposed reaching a similar goal through a different funding mechanism. His American Cures Act calls for a 5% annual increase after inflation for NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several military biomedical research programs. The money would be drawn from a newly created trust fund, although the bill doesn’t specify how the fund would be financed.The bills stand almost no chance of becoming law this year. But Harkin’s mechanism is potentially attractive to legislators, because it offers them a free lunch—that is, a chance to support NIH without having to take money from another federal agency. Specifically, the bill would eliminate the often fierce competition for money between NIH and other agencies overseen by the appropriations subcommittee that funds health, education, and welfare programs, as well as between that panel and the 11 other subcommittees that make up the overall federal budget pie.Harkin is retiring in December after 40 years in Congress. But biomedical lobbyists hope that he will use his clout as chair of both the Senate spending panel that controls NIH’s budget and the authorizing committee that sets policy for the agency to make things happen when the lame-duck Congress returns after the fall election. One veteran advocate who asked to remain unnamed estimates that Harkin’s approach has a one-in-five chance of being folded into an omnibus spending bill that covers the rest of the 2015 fiscal year if Democrats maintain control of the Senate. Of course, that would be only a 1-year fix, because Congress appropriates on an annual basis.Those odds grow longer, however, if Republicans take charge of the Senate. Under that scenario, pundits say, the election would be seen as a vote for continued fiscal restraint. In addition, spending decisions would likely be delayed until after the new Congress is seated.Has steady funding ever existed?Regardless of which party ends up controlling the Senate, the research community is unlikely to abandon its embrace of the innovation deficit as a persuasive tool in funding battles. (A coalition of scientific societies, including AAAS, publisher of ScienceInsider, has even created a website for the concept.) More money for research is only part of the pitch, however; groups are also using the phrase to highlight the importance of steady, predictable growth in the research enterprise.In applauding Harkin’s bill, for example, the Association of American Medical Colleges touches on both ideas. Its leaders cite the need “not only to restore the purchasing power the NIH has lost to inflation over the past decade, but also to provide the sustained, long-term predictable funding growth essential to catalyze scientific momentum and address current and emerging health challenges.”But is there really such a thing as steady, sustained growth? An analysis of federal spending over the past 20 years for what amounts to basic research suggests that the answer is no (see graph, below). In the case of NIH, for example, the 2 recent decades include two sharp rises—a 5-year doubling between 1998 to 2003 and a one-time bolus of money in 2009 that increased NIH’s budget by roughly one-third. Those peaks are interspersed with stretches of essentially flat budgets and punctuated with a dip from the 2013 sequester. ADVANCED MANUFACTURING STEM EDUCATIONcenter_img STREAM AND WETLAND PROTECTION NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION POLICY Matthew Hourihan, AAASThat history poses a potential dilemma for policy wonks concerned about U.S. research funding. On one hand, for instance, legislation such as Harkin’s bill would bring much desired additional funding to NIH. At the same time, however, it would trigger yet another dramatic upward budget swing. Research leaders have long argued that such sudden swings are quite disruptive and make long-range planning nearly impossible. In addition, a sudden upturn can send a false message of hope to aspiring scientists that the good times will last into the foreseeable future.Biomedical advocates readily acknowledge the dilemma. But it isn’t stopping them from pushing for Harkin’s bill. Jennifer Zeitzer, a lobbyist for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland, says the decision to embrace Harkin’s bill was easy. “We support anything that helps NIH. It’s our No. 1 priority,” she explains.Other biomedical lobbyists say they try to cast a big net when talking with legislators about the importance of more research funding, but that NIH is a logical place to start. “We’re advocating for the bill because of the need to get NIH back on track,” says Jennifer Poulakidas of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in Washington, D.C. “If there’s the possibility of expanding that approach to all federally funded research, then we’d be in favor of that, too. But the key is to take that first step. And you can make a special case for NIH because of the importance of finding cures and better treatments for a host of deadly diseases.”Lobbyists outside of the biomedical field say the community’s fervent support for the Harkin bill is understandable, even if its prospects may be slim. “Biomedical advocates are so beaten down by a decade of flat funding that they will grab for anything they can get,” says Joel Widder of Federal Science Partners, a boutique government relations firm in Washington, D.C.An end to the sequester?The effort to exempt NIH from the Budget Control Act assumes that the law will remain in place. But one major player in the budget game, President Obama, appears to be preparing a major push to unplug the automatic sequestration mechanism that enforces it. Last week, Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told reporters that “we’ve cut too much” and that the White House is looking to strike a “larger agreement [with Congress] around relieving sequester.” The carrot for Republicans, he said, would be cuts in some mandatory spending programs.Administration officials argue that the 2011 law has done its job: Last week, OMB announced that the budget deficit for 2014 was $483 billion, the lowest since 2008; at 2.8% of GDP, it’s below the average for the past 40 years. Instead of levying further cuts, they add, it’s time to make the sort of investments—in research, education, and infrastructure—that will produce long-term economic growth.How large an investment Obama will propose is hard to predict—as is whether Congress would be willing to go along. But given the president’s plummeting popularity and the likely Republican gains in next month’s election, some observers say, the White House may find itself on the sidelines as a Republican Congress tackles federal spending over the next 2 years.ScienceInsider’s After Election 2014 series will look at a range of issues that will be on policymakers’ agenda once the voters have spoken on 4 November. Look for stories on:BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH FUNDING 21ST CENTURY CURESlast_img read more

first_imgThis 465-square metre luxury villa is newly finished and in arguably the best location on the island. Situated on the rocks of Uluwatu between two of Bali’s most iconic surf spots, Padang Padang and Bingin. With its turquoise shutters, panoramic views and swim-out access to Impossibles break, The Rocks is truly the ultimate beach house.Each of the six bedrooms features a pastel-hued ensuite bathroom and private terrace overlooking the white sand and azure waters, while the open-plan entertaining space includes a private bar and ocean deck. Work out in the outdoor jungle gym, sip on a margarita with unrivalled views of the famous sunset and fall asleep to the sound of the waves; you won’t want to leave.Coming soonMandala.The Bay (Nusa Lembongan from January 2019)This new addition to the portfolio is located on the small island paradise of Nusa Lembongan, just a 30-minute boat trip from Bali. This five bedroom water-front villa overlooks Sandy Bay, arguably the best sunset spot in Bali offering understated chicness, a dreamy beach and the dramatic beauty of the crashing waves at Devil’s Tear, just across the bay from the property. Nusa Lembongan’s vivid aqua crystal clear waters are perfect for diving, surfing and snorkelling, and the island can be hiked across in two hours and is dotted with pristine white sandy beaches.Mandala.The Services at a glanceThe Mandala concierge is always on hand with a black book of contacts to arrange a wide range of services at the villa and excursions including: massages, spa services, personal trainers, private yoga classes, surf lessons, private bartenders, restaurant reservations, bar and club accessMandala knows how to throw a party, from weddings to birthdays to product launches, with access to full catering, mixology, event planning services and can partner with its sister business Ulu Cliffhouse in UluwatuEach villa is fully staffed with an in-house manager, chef, housekeepers and full-time securityThe complimentary breakfast menu caters to every diet, from the healthier poached eggs and avocado on rye bread to the more indulgent scrambled eggs with chorizo and fresh pastriesIf you are travelling with children a baby cot can be provided, and staff can arrange for barriers to surround the pool, organic baby purees, nannies and anything else you may needVIP meet-and-greet service at the airport, whisking you through customs in a flash.For more information, see www.mandala.houseGo back to the enewsletter Go back to the enewsletterMandala is a portfolio of privately owned, design-led residences in spectacular Balinese locations conceptualised around clean, flowing lines and open airy spaces that mix raw, industrial elements with warm, elegant and luxurious finishes to provide private refuges with a signature flair for the unexpected.Mandala began as the vision of owner Ben Jones, Founder and CEO of the M.Development family of businesses and creator of an award-winning group of bars and restaurants, including Bali’s hottest new beach club, Ulu Cliffhouse. This trailblazing new villa brand establishes a new paradigm in luxury accommodation, bridging the gap between branded boutique hotels and one-off, fully independent villas for those who want to kick back with the creature comforts and consistency of a five-star hotel, while enjoying the exclusivity of a private home. Each villa is a super-luxe, five+ bedroom property, with painstaking attention to detail throughout, from interior design, architecture and services to the exceptionally high standards of staff training.“Our ultimate goal is to create and set the standard for five-star villas,” said Ben Jones, owner of Mandala. “We are building a brand where consumers will expect and receive quality, experience and service on par with any five-star hotel, with the privacy and discretion of a private villa, in literally the most beautiful locations we can find.”Each villa has been developed to meaningfully occupy its environment and is located in a carefully selected destination, from the green Balinese rice paddies of Canggu to the surf of Uluwatu and the picturesque lagoon in Nusa Lembongan.Mandala sets a premium standard across all locations, with an unforgettable food program, incredible menus and a fully stocked bar with premium brands, a wine cellar, Mandala’s custom infused spirits range and even its own bottled cocktails inspired by Ben’s Singapore bar Operation Dagger, ranked in the world’s top 20 bars. Each property has its own art collection, bespoke bathroom products and fully equipped gym with workout programs and a vetted list of Bali’s best yoga instructors, meditation coaches, fitness professionals, surf instructors and aestheticians on call. The villas have attentive but discreet staff in attendance 24/7 to ensure any and every need is met.Mandala started as a dream home in Canggu and the concept has evolved into a portfolio of superb sites with the launch of three more villas in Berawa, Uluwatu and Nusa Lembongan, with further locations to follow in 2019.Mandala. The VillasMandala.The House (Canggu)Minutes from the surf breaks of Canggu in Bali’s most happening neighbourhood, this one-of-a-kind villa was designed by one of Bali’s leading architects and its unique features include a glass-bottomed pool, swim-up copper bar, boxing gym and infinity swimming pool that overlooks the adjoining paddy fields.The House has five king ensuites spread over 600 square metres of interior, each with a signature bathroom. The open-plan entertaining space is centred around a palm tree growing through the double-height ceilings and sunken living room in shades of ocean blue. Mandala.The Home (Canggu)This five-king-ensuite-bedroom villa is just minutes away from the beach. The elegant villa was designed by the same award-winning architect and spans over 5,000 square feet of meticulously designed interiors, with paddy fields on two sides and a peaceful riverside frontage. Curated with world-class art and finished to the highest standards with heavy use of local stone work, artisan ceramics and bespoke furniture, highlights include the stylish poolside suites and master bedroom with tailor-made dressing room and private terrace. The property has a beautiful outdoor dining area and brass bar shaded under a fragranced canopy of bougainvillea and jasmine; this villa is truly your home away from home.center_img  Mandala.The Rocks (Uluwatu)last_img read more