The Global Science Program for Security, Competitiveness and Diplomacy Act, co-sponsored in March by Berman and Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska, would provide grants of up to five years to universities and businesses and fund infrastructure for research in a number of specific fields, including multi–drug-resistant and water-borne diseases, renewable energy and nuclear nonproliferation, among others. Research into sensitive subjects such as bioterrorism and select agents would not be funded. The bill, which does not specify a budget, also aims to create a 'global virtual science library' that would make scientific journals available at little to no cost.
Ahmed Zewail, an Egyptian-born chemist at the California Institute of Technology and a member on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, applauds the legislation. “This is about creating the infrastructure, exchanges and management” in science between the US and the Muslim world, says Zewail, who was one of three science envoys appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in November.
Still, he concedes that some countries in the region do not have the capacity to support research, even if paid for by US taxpayers. “Some countries are at different levels,” he says. “Some will only be able to contribute human resources,” but others should produce concrete results.
Read the full story here. This bill is in its early stages and has to first go through the foreign affairs committee as well the relevant science committees of both the House and the Senate, before it can be brought up for a vote in the respective chamber of the Congress.