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    Representing science: diversity on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
    (Oxford University Press, 2024) Evans, Kenneth M.; Matthews, Kirstin R.W.; Baker Institute Science and Technology Policy Program
    Federal advisory committees related to science and technology are important mechanisms for connecting policy-makers with independent experts and the broader public. The balance of represented expertise and viewpoints shapes a committee’s intended advisory role, consensus building processes, and the quality and impact of its policy recommendations. This paper presents the first historical analysis of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and examines its changing balance of social and p rofessional perspectives from 1990 to 2023. We demonstrate that PCAST’s balance has shifted to be more inclusive of different social groups and professional backgrounds over time, particularly under President Biden. We conclude with recommendations for future WhiteHouse science policy advisory bodies to ensure they are adequately representative of the diversity of perspectives in the US research enterprise and the overall US population.
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    The Perils of Complacency: America at a Tipping Point in Science & Engineering
    (American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2020) American Academy of Arts & Sciences; Baker Institute for Public Policy
    This consensus report jointly published by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy examines current and historical challenges to America's leadership in scientific research and development and makes recommendations for improving the U.S. science, technology, and innovation policy.
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    A Recombinant Protein XBB.1.5 RBD/Alum/CpG Vaccine Elicits High Neutralizing Antibody Titers against Omicron Subvariants of SARS-CoV-2
    Thimmiraju, Syamala Rani; Adhikari, Rakesh; Villar, Maria Jose; Lee, Jungsoon; Liu, Zhuyun; Kundu, Rakhi; Chen, Yi-Lin; Sharma, Suman; Ghei, Karm; Keegan, Brian; Versteeg, Leroy; Gillespie, Portia M.; Ciciriello, Allan; Islam, Nelufa Y.; Poveda, Cristina; Uzcategui, Nestor; Chen, Wen-Hsiang; Kimata, Jason T.; Zhan, Bin; Strych, Ulrich; Bottazzi, Maria Elena; Hotez, Peter J.; Pollet, Jeroen
    (1) Background: We previously reported the development of a recombinant protein SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, consisting of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, adjuvanted with aluminum hydroxide (alum) and CpG oligonucleotides. In mice and non-human primates, our wild-type (WT) RBD vaccine induced high neutralizing antibody titers against the WT isolate of the virus, and, with partners in India and Indonesia, it was later developed into two closely resembling human vaccines, Corbevax and Indovac. Here, we describe the development and characterization of a next-generation vaccine adapted to the recently emerging XBB variants of SARS-CoV-2. (2) Methods: We conducted preclinical studies in mice using a novel yeast-produced SARS-CoV-2 XBB.1.5 RBD subunit vaccine candidate formulated with alum and CpG. We examined the neutralization profile of sera obtained from mice vaccinated twice intramuscularly at a 21-day interval with the XBB.1.5-based RBD vaccine, against WT, Beta, Delta, BA.4, BQ.1.1, BA.2.75.2, XBB.1.16, XBB.1.5, and EG.5.1 SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses. (3) Results: The XBB.1.5 RBD/CpG/alum vaccine elicited a robust antibody response in mice. Furthermore, the serum from vaccinated mice demonstrated potent neutralization against the XBB.1.5 pseudovirus as well as several other Omicron pseudoviruses. However, regardless of the high antibody cross-reactivity with ELISA, the anti-XBB.1.5 RBD antigen serum showed low neutralizing titers against the WT and Delta virus variants. (4) Conclusions: Whereas we observed modest cross-neutralization against Omicron subvariants with the sera from mice vaccinated with the WT RBD/CpG/Alum vaccine or with the BA.4/5-based vaccine, the sera raised against the XBB.1.5 RBD showed robust cross-neutralization. These findings underscore the imminent opportunity for an updated vaccine formulation utilizing the XBB.1.5 RBD antigen.
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    Ethical, legal, regulatory, and policy issues concerning embryoids: a systematic review of the literature
    Iltis, Ana S.; Koster, Grace; Reeves, Emily; Matthews, Kirstin R. W.
    Recent advances in methods to culture pluripotent stem cells to model human development have resulted in entities that increasingly have recapitulated advanced stages of early embryo development. These entities, referred to by numerous terms such as embryoids, are becoming more sophisticated and could resemble human embryos ever more closely as research progresses. This paper reports a systematic review of the ethical, legal, regulatory, and policy questions and concerns found in the literature concerning human embryoid research published from 2016 to 2022. We identified 56 papers that use 53 distinct names or terms to refer to embryoids and four broad categories of ethical, legal, regulatory, or policy considerations in the literature: research justifications/benefits, ethical significance or moral status, permissible use, and regulatory and oversight challenges. Analyzing the full range of issues is a critical step toward fostering more robust ethical, legal, and social implications research in this emerging area and toward developing appropriate oversight.
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    Adopting a Circular Economy for Surgical Care to Address Supply Chain Shocks and Climate Change
    Mehtsun, Winta T.; Hyland, Colby J.; Offodile, Anaeze C., II
    As the severity and frequency of climate change–induced weather events increase and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global trade persist, the health care sector remains vulnerable to supply chain disturbances internationally. Health care is a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Supply chains, including food and transportation, account for up to 80% of total health care–associated emissions in the US. Downstream consequences of GHG emissions from US health care are severe, resulting in losses of approximately 388 000 disability-adjusted life-years annually. In turn, health care systems are working to minimize GHG emissions and restructure supply chains.
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    The Brain Health Diplomat's Toolkit: supporting brain health diplomacy leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Elsevier) Dawson, Walter D.; Booi, Laura; Pintado-Caipa, Maritza; Okada de Oliveira, Maira; Kornhuber, Alex; Spoden, Natasha; Golonka, Ona; Shallcross, Lenny; Davidziuk, Alejandra; Cominetti, Márcia Regina; Vergara-Manríquez, Mayte; Kochhann, Renata; Robertson, Ian; Eyre, Harris A.; Ibáñez, Agustin
    Maintaining and improving brain health, one of the most critical global challenges of this century, necessitates innovative, interdisciplinary, and collaborative strategies to address the growing challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean. This paper introduces Brain Health Diplomacy (BHD) as a pioneering approach to bridge disciplinary and geographic boundaries and mobilize resources to promote equitable brain health outcomes in the region. Our framework provides a toolkit for emerging brain health leaders, equipping them with essential concepts and practical resources to apply in their professional work and collaborations. By providing case studies, we highlight the importance of culturally sensitive, region-specific interventions to address unique needs of vulnerable populations. By encouraging dialogue, ideation, and cross-sector discussions, we aspire to develop new research, policy, and programmatic avenues. The novel BHD approach has the potential to revolutionize brain health across the region and beyond, ultimately contributing to a more equitable global cognitive health landscape.
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    The Importance of Science Advocacy
    (Journal of Science Policy & Governance, Inc.) Evans, Kenneth; Matthews, Kirstin
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    U.S. Scientific Research and Development 202: A Critical Look at the Federal Research and Development Funding System
    (Center for American Progress) Matthews, Kirstin R.W.; Evans, Kenneth M.; Lane, Neal F.
    As a new Congress begins to deal with the federal budget, it is useful to review the budget setting process in the United States as it applies to research and development (R&D). The federal R&D budget process is a complex, often confusing, procedure characterized by a series of lengthy and frequently contentious negotiations between Congress, the Executive Office of the President, and numerous cabinet-level departments and federal agencies, all attempting to respond to an abundance of expectations and conflicting demands. Here we focus on the parts of the federal budget that deal with science and technology R&D funding in particular.
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    Human Schistosomiasis Vaccines as Next Generation Control Tools
    (MDPI) Hotez, Peter J.; Bottazzi, Maria Elena; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
    Human schistosomiasis remains one of the most important yet neglected tropical diseases, with the latest estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study indicating that over 140 million people are infected with schistosomes [...]
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    Editorial: Precision psychiatry from a pharmacogenetics perspective
    (Frontiers Media S.A.) Brown, Lisa C.; Allen, Josiah D.; Eyre, Harris A.; Baune, Bernhard T.; Aitchison, Katherine J.; Bousman, Chad A.; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
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    Global Vaccinations: New Urgency to Surmount a Triple Threat of Illness, Antiscience, and Anti-Semitism
    Hotez, Peter J.; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
    Because of rising antivaccine activism and some key global policy missteps, we risk eroding more than 70 years of global health gains. This is occurring through an enabled and empowered antiscience ecosystem, with anti-Semitism and the targeting of Jewish biomedical scientists at its core.
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    The Economic Effects of Proposed Changes to the Tax Treatment of Capital Gains
    (James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy) Diamond, John W.; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
    In this paper, we examine the economic effects of enacting a proposal by the Biden Administration to tax long term capital gains at ordinary income tax rates for those with taxable income above $1 million and tax unrealized gains at the time of death (i.e., repealing step up of basis) for single (joint) filers with more than $1 million ($2 million) in unrealized gains. Current economic conditions may exacerbate the problems associated with increasing the taxation of capital gains. In particular, rising inflation would exacerbate the negative economic effects associated with taxing capital gains income at a higher rate as well as repealing step up in basis. It also exacerbates the differential treatment of current and future consumption, that is it discourages saving, that occurs under an income tax. Simulations show that in the long run GDP falls by roughly 0.3 percent, as a result of a decline in the capital stock of roughly 1.0 percent and a decline in total hours worked of 0.1 percent, and aggregate consumption falls by 0.1 percent. Initially hours worked declines by 0.1 percent in a full employment economy; if instead labor hours worked per individual were held constant, this would be roughly equivalent to a loss of approximately 209,000 jobs in that year. Real wages decrease initially by 0.2 percent, by 0.2 percent five years after enactment, and by 0.6 percent in the long run. Higher levels of inflation would exacerbate the negative economic effects of raising capital gains tax rates and repealing step up in basis. Finally, two decades of relatively slow economic growth call for increased innovation and faster diffusion of new technology, but higher capital gains tax rates will reduce innovation and technology diffusion.
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    Macroeconomic Effects of the Inflation Reduction Act
    Diamond, John W.; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
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    Automation Does Not Kill Jobs; It Increases Inequality
    Brito, Dagobert L.; Curl, Robert F.; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
    The authors have developed a model of the effects of automation upon an economy similar to the U.S. The model predicts that the most important consequence of automation is to lower the real wages of medium-skilled and low-skilled workers. Data covering the period 1984 to 2016 demonstrate, as the model predicts, that the share of these workers in domestic production has steadily, if somewhat noisily declined.
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    Minerals & Materials Supply Chains — Considerations for Decarbonizing Transportation
    Foss, Michelle Michot; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
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    Undocumented Immigrants in Texas: A Cost-Benefit Assessment
    (James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy) Rodriguez-Sanchez, Jose Ivan; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
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    North America’s Shifting Supply Chains: The UMSCA, COVID-19, and the U.S.-China Trade War
    (James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy) Gantz, David A.; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
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    The Spatial Dimension of Crime in Mexico City (2016–2019)
    Aguilera, Alfonso Valenzuela; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
    Crime exhibits specific geographical and chronological patterns in Latin American cities, and data on criminal activity allows scholars to trace spatial and chronological patterns down to specific neighborhoods and certain hours of the day in these cities. Over the last three decades, numerous studies have explored the relationship between crime, space, and time, and some studies have even established strong correlations between different patterns of land use and specific types of crimes. Few of these studies, however, have focused on the spatial configurations of criminal activity in cities and the conditions that elicit criminal activity in certain locations. Using recent crime data for Mexico City, this study employs a methodology based on crime location quotients to establish correlations that spatially characterize crime. This information can substantially improve public safety policies applied to urban contexts.
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    Mexico Country Outlook 2022
    James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
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    Mexico Country Outlook 2021
    (James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy) James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy; James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy