The NIH continues to run, fund grants. The eleventh-hour fiscal cliff deal delayed planned sequestration of funds for discretionary spending, including research funding, for two months to allow further negotiation. Whether this cut will go into effect as written remains uncertain. The NIH reduced its award rate for non-competitive grant renewals in October of 2012, and will continue to fund renewals at a reduced rate at least until the budget for fiscal year 2013 is finalized.
Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini has died. The Italian neuroscientist and senator-for-life was 102. She received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of nerve growth factor, the first diffusible growth factor to be described.
Sub-absolute-zero temperatures attained. Physicists at the Ludwig-Maximilianus University Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have generated a stable gaseous system with negative kelvin temperature and extraordinarily high kinetic energy.
Unusually harsh flu season hits area hospitals. The CDC reports an unusually high number of outpatient visits for flu-like symptoms, both nationally and in Maryland. Influenza season usually peaks in late January or early February. Meanwhile, Google Flu Trends has proven useful in predicting local outbreaks weeks in advance.