Life sciences lose in State of the Union

In his linkurl:State of the Union;http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080128-13.html address last night, President Bush asked Congress to double the funding of basic research in the physical sciences, but asked life scientists to keep their work "ethical," reiterating his stance on the need for legislation banning human cloning. To bolster his call to ban human cloning, the President cited recent research by Yamanaka and Thomson, who both reported last November that stem cell-lik

By | January 29, 2008

In his linkurl:State of the Union;http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080128-13.html address last night, President Bush asked Congress to double the funding of basic research in the physical sciences, but asked life scientists to keep their work "ethical," reiterating his stance on the need for legislation banning human cloning. To bolster his call to ban human cloning, the President cited recent research by Yamanaka and Thomson, who both reported last November that stem cell-like cells could be reprogrammed from adult skin cells (you can read about it linkurl:here).;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53873/ This work, he said, "has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of the past by extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life." The President continued by asking Congress to pass legislation that would ban the "buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life." But stem cell researchers hardly agree that work on embryonic cells is now obsolete. A statement from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) said that Bush distorted the scientific facts of stem cell research, and that the scientific community still considers human embryonic stem cell research "the gold standard for research into pluripotent cells." Bush also stressed the need to "empower" scientists to conduct groundbreaking research and remain competitive internationally. But just as in his address linkurl:two years ago,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23032/ he extended that support to the physical sciences, in a call to double funding in that arena, conspicuously leaving out the life sciences. The President urged medical researchers to rely on their "innovative spirit" to empower them to discover new treatments. Critics say that the America COMPETES act, which was supposed to double funding to the National Science Foundation and strengthen education in technology and engineering, didn't received the financial support it needed. Congress passed the act last year, but never passed funding for it (read more linkurl:here).;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53476/ The act never included a specific science education component, and the President's budget last year proposed cutting funding for K-12 education activities at the National Science Foundation, noted U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon in a statement. "This year, the President's FY2009 budget needs to better reflect the priorities of the America COMPETES act, which he signed into law last year."
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Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 29, 2008

Only in academia could a call for doubling research budgets be considered a losing proposition!
Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

January 29, 2008

Thankfully, he won't set agenda. I agree we should increase physical sciences spending. But that is because for our country to be able to support its debt, we must invest in positive ROI things. Science has a GNP ROI of ~ 2-3 times investment. NASA and DARPA have had ROI of around 6-7 times investment. DOE has been positive, as has USDA - very strong ROI. Schools are strongly positive, but I have never seen an attempt to quantify ROI. (Which does not mean it does not exist.) Military spending has an ROI of around 0.8. Social programs may be nearly flat, but are probably around 0.95 or so. Our budget, all together, has been strongly negative against GNP for the Bush presidency. We need to have this conversation about ROI on tax expenditures. Not all debt is equal. So sciences and applied sciences should logically get a major share. So should schools and infrastructure.
Avatar of: David Fritzinger

David Fritzinger

Posts: 2

January 29, 2008

Considering that the president didn't put the funding into his budget, I think that is an accurate interpretation. Plus, it appears that the president doesn't want to give life sciences much of anything at all. Certainly, if you look at past funding requests from the administration, that is the only conclusion that you can reach.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

January 29, 2008

This is just blatant trolling on the part of the author, and of the Scientist. You sometimes have decent articles, but then sometimes you come out with this hogwash.\n\nPlease continue to report on new papers, break-throughs etc - and get out of politics. You turn my stomach.\n\nYou want embyonic stem-cell research? You want human-cloning - be careful. You may get what you wish for. \n\n\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

January 29, 2008

With regard to the comment about doubling a budget only being disappointing for academics, I would like to point out that those of us that are disappointed with the proposed increases are looking at this from the perspective of life science, whereas the doubling of the budget was in reference only to physical sciences. That being said, it would be naive to think large increases might be made in one area and another closely linked area might not also get some consideration. I hope.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 29, 2008

The percentage share of total Federal research funding between 1970-97 went from 29.4% to 43.2%\n, during this time the Physical sciences went from 19.3% to 14.1%. That is a 13.8% increase for life sciences and a 5.2% decline for Physical Science. Social science funding, which has never been a large part of the budget is headed towards half of what it used to be. Psychology was also down in funding, and gets even less funding then any other area of federal funding. Engineering funding also took a big hit. Math & Computer Sciences has increased substantially. But it does not, in my opinion, reflect the importance of these fields. Life Sciences has been the biggest winner in percentage of total Federal research funding.\n\nIncrease in funding in Math & Computer Science has been vitally important to the Life Sciences. If this area were decreased in funding it would be a "hit" on the advancement of Life Sciences.\n\nAs far as the Physical Sciences increase in funding is concerned, I believe this is based on current increased potential for basic benefit by funding the Physical Sciences more.\n\nI believe, in addition the Life Sciences gets more private funding for basic research then all areas combined. \n\nA basic idea of federal funded research is to fund research that is too forward looking and/or too expensive for industry to take on. I believe of all the areas, the cost of Life Sciences research has diminished greatly in comparison to other basic research areas and that funding needs to reflect these changes. The bottom line is that Life Science research is now more cost effective and does not need the previous levels of funding.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

January 29, 2008

Correct, Bush has never supported life sciences. This is one of what should be recognized as the scariest movement in US politics. It appears that the Republican party has fully become driven by false religious groups calling themselves the Christian Right. really Scary folks!! I am a Christian, affiliated with time tested, critically evaluated by serious study - as opposed to make up your own, Ludittes. Will this extemism change my pattern of Republican voting - you bet it will!\nAs scientist we cannot ignore politics. But we must spend some of our time and effort out in the real world explaining what science is and is not. Some don't see the connection with funding of life science research with food, health, disease, medicine. Let us get on with a complete agenda!
Avatar of: Sergio Stagnaro

Sergio Stagnaro

Posts: 59

January 29, 2008

\nSirs, I should like to express my scientific opinion about human cloning. Cloning indicates the possibility to generate two or more organisms, showing the same genetic equipment starting from unique donor. Notoriously, this process is based on the strong statement claiming that ?nucleus?, and I underscore ?nucleus?, of every tissue cell of an individual contains its complete genetic endowment, and, therefore, the whole information in order to reproduce an organism. Consequently, it is sufficient and necessary to substitute the ?nucleus? of an ovolum with the cellular ?nucleus? of tissue specimen cell, and subsequently activate it simulating spermatozoon contact. The individual, who will be born, will show the same genetic endowment as that from whom cellular ?nucleus? has been drawn. At this point, development process of embryo will initiate, which will bee transplanted in a womb, to perform pregnancy. In my opinion, at the base of such as overall accepted argument, and on which all scientists agree, there is a fundamental bias, i.e., they are erroneously thinking that whole DNA is in the ?nucleus?. By contrast, it is now-a-days well-known that exists also the mitochondrial DNA, localized in a well-defined cytoplasmatic structure, present almost in all cells, varying from 400 and 800 or more per cell, which represent cellular ?lung?, providing cellular free energy. In addition, mit-DNA codes really 13 ?essential? proteins, unavoidable for individual?s life, not dependent from from n- DNA interaction. I have previously demonstrated ?clinically? (www.semeioticabiofisica.it) that it exists really a functional mitochondrial abnormality, the most common and serious human disease, including malignancies, are based on. This mitochondrial functional impairment is different, as regards it seriousness, from individual to individual, from tissue to tissue of the same individual, as well as from part to part (from cell to cell) of the same biological system. In addition, physicians around the world have to know and recognize, since birth, in all individuals the constitution-dependent INHERITED Real Risk, characterized by newborn-pathological, type I, subtype a) ONCOLOGICAL, and b) aspecific Endoarteriolar Blocking Devices, which play a central role in microcirculatory remodelling (ibidem) In a few words, the present concept of human cloning is not an indication of a scientific event, but rather one of dystressing and arrogant scientism. Sergio Stagnaro MD., \n
Avatar of: null null

null null

Posts: 11

January 29, 2008

Maybe life sciences suffer an unfair disadvantage against physical sciences due to more complexities and ethical issues involved, e.g. embryonic stem cell research. However, it also suffers from the dismal outcomes from the stated aims of the scientists who applied for and received the public funding over the years. The spectacular failures of the recent new drugs developed and marketed partially with the government funds by the pharmaceutical giants certainly don't help the cause of life sciences, either. Nevertheless, the main fault lies with the private investigators who consistently have promised more than they can deliver to make their funding applications look as attractive to the reviewers as possible, with a lot of hypes.
Avatar of: Eric Perlman

Eric Perlman

Posts: 2

January 30, 2008

An earlier poster commented:\n\n> The percentage share of total Federal research funding \n> between 1970-97 went from 29.4% to 43.2% , during this time \n> the Physical sciences went from 19.3% to 14.1%. That is a \n> 13.8% increase for life sciences and a 5.2% decline for Physical \n> Science. Social science funding, which has never been a large \n> part of the budget is headed towards half of what it used to \n> be. Psychology was also down in funding, and gets even less \n> funding then any other area of federal funding. Engineering \n> funding also took a big hit. Math & Computer Sciences has \n> increased substantially. But it does not, in my opinion, reflect \n> the importance of these fields. Life Sciences has been the \n> biggest winner in percentage of total Federal research \n> funding.\n\nThis poster is correct. And in the last 10 years, the funding picture has gotten even more skewed. Beginning in the last few years of the Clinton administration, NIH was put on a doubling path. NSF never received any comparable increases, instead receiving increases that either paced or were less than inflation the last ten years running. NASA and DOE research were similarly restricted. So since 1997, the disparity between life and physical sciences -- already large by that point -- has grown further by almost a factor 2.\n\nThis may not be popular to point out in this forum, but as scientists (and yes, I'll admit it, I am a physical scientist) we are all in it together -- or we should be. And the sheer numbers say that in the last 10 years alone the share of federal monies going to life sciences research -- and specifically NIH -- has outstripped that going to physical sciences by nearly 2:1. And if you extend that back to 1970, the disparity grows.

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