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Senate OKs big NIH bump

The US Senate, which is furiously debating the details of the economic stimulus package making its way through Congress, passed an amendment yesterday (Feb. 3) to add $6.5 billion in National Institutes of Health funding on top of the $3.5 billion already allotted to the agency in the bill. Science advocacy groups praised passage of the amendment, which was sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL). linkurl:Richard Marchase,;http://main.uab.edu/show.a

By | February 4, 2009

The US Senate, which is furiously debating the details of the economic stimulus package making its way through Congress, passed an amendment yesterday (Feb. 3) to add $6.5 billion in National Institutes of Health funding on top of the $3.5 billion already allotted to the agency in the bill. Science advocacy groups praised passage of the amendment, which was sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL). linkurl:Richard Marchase,;http://main.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=8039 president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), said that the sponsors of the amendment were "champions of biomedical research," in a statement. "Millions of Americans who suffer from devastating illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer's disease, as well as the hundreds of thousands whose jobs depend on NIH funding, owe a great deal to these leaders," he added. "It is our hope that the economic recovery package is one step forward towards a long-term, sustainable investment in medical research." linkurl:John Morrison,;http://www.mountsinai.org/Find%20A%20Faculty/profile.do?id=0000072500001497270992 the chair of Society for Neuroscience's (SfN) government and public affairs committee, added his encouragement for the NIH budget bump. "SfN applauds the efforts of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and others to provide $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health in the economic recovery package, helping to save and create jobs now while investing in our nation's long term health and economic strength," he said in a statement emailed to __The Scientist__. "SfN sees the economic recovery package as a first step of what must be a long-term national commitment to prioritize and stabilize research funding." The House (with no support from Republicans) passed a version of the stimulus bill, which provided $3.5 billion in NIH funding, last week. Democrats and Republicans in the Congress will continue thrashing out the finer points of the bill, and the legislature is expected to have a version ready for President Barack Obama to sign by mid-February. Exactly how an NIH funding increase will be spent remains to be determined.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Bailing out life science;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55338/
[15th January 2009]*linkurl:$500 million NIH funds boost?;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55016/
[17th September 2008]

Comments

Avatar of: GORAN HELLEKANT

GORAN HELLEKANT

Posts: 10

February 4, 2009

I visited Slovenia, the university at Ljubljana last fall and walked through lab after lab of the filled with brand new equipment supplied by EU or personnel hired on hard money. Quite different from here where we struggle with matching funds, consortia and tons of excuses for an HPLC or cell counter or scraping every corner to be able to keep a lab going. May be it is time, finally, to acknowledge that we have been on the wrong track spending our resources?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 13

February 4, 2009

It is so great to finally read that biomedical research deserves at least this much attention! In comparison to Europe, US has long enjoyed the title of being the best and sometimes that title slows you down and the rest of them catch up to you and surpass you. With that being said, I think that the US still has the best opportunities for scientists, the only thing missing is the desire to once again climb the top and this will only be achieved when scientists see that their work is valued! Providing money will certainly provide the stimulus!
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 7

February 5, 2009

"There is an assumption that the recent exponential growth of scientific information about disease, as evidenced by the substantial increase in the numbers of published articles in biomedical journals, heralds a rapid move to improve human health. \n\n"This illusion..."\n\nRosenberg, RN. Translating Biomedical Research to the Bedside: A National Crisis and a Call to Action. Journal of the American Medical Association 2003;289:1305-6. \n\nThere is no evidence that anything has changed. If the boost in NIH funding is intended as a make-work program, then it puts the lie to the fundamental claim that NIH is a good investment of tax-payer dollars.\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

February 5, 2009

I guess you just didn't want to finish reading the article you were quoting, did you? Too many words for you?\n\nA few sentences after "This illusion..." is "The group concludes, however, that a significant increase in resources must now be deployed to develop the mechanisms and infrastructure to accomplish the translation and implementation of this new knowledge to the patient." What exactly do you think this money is going to be used for? The article you cited was a call for increased funding of the sciences, an "emergency" funding of the sciences, in fact. \n\nInvestment in the sciences have always yielded larger economic returns than the initial investments, generally in the range of 2:1, much higher than permanent tax cuts that average out to be 0.37:1. To call this a colossal waste or a poor investment very well may be the height of ignorance. \n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 23

February 5, 2009

All biomedical scientists should be thankful of this boost and know that besides President Obama there are good Republicans! US Science needs this badly, particularly during this tough time.\n\nHowever, it remains uncertain how big of the $10 Billion pie will be going to support new investigators. NIH's recent focus on ESI is good, but not enough because many outstanding jr investigators (although not ESI) are now being hurt. \n\nIt also remains unclear about how much of the money will be spent on buildings and equipment, rather than supporting research.\n\nTo the kid who said this boost is a complete waste. Thanks for biomedical research, you can actually live today to make your views known! There is no question that we live longer and healthier because of the investment in health research. \n\nOnce again, I thank the Senators for their vision and courage! Now, I am waiting to see the same vision and courage from our NIH leaders.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 8

February 5, 2009

The average barely-passed high school or never graduated high school autoworker appears to earn more than the average science PhD and many time that of the average postdoc.\nAmerica was a dominant force of freedom and democracy in the 20th century because it developed the science and technology that transformed the world (with the help of immigrant scientists from around the world). Cheap overseas labor will ensure that we are not known for manufacturing cheap products en-mass in the 21st century.\nScience, technology, innovation, creativity can ensure our security, freedom, and economy in the 21st century.\nSo, would you like our tax payer bailout going to encourage an uneducated workforce that is readily displaced by cheap overseas labor or would you rather it be used to pay PhDs and other levels of scientists to innovate the 21st century? Let's hope the 10 billion for NIH goes mostly to fund investigator initiated Ro1's- the funding mechanism that has generated the most innovative and creative research of the NIH system. I know a few postdocs who would love to make just a third of the average autoworkers salary to create the next generation cancer therapy.\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

February 6, 2009

I review grant proposals for an NIH study section. At this point we are funding less than 15% of proposals- some of the time down around 12%. In the banner days of American scientific progress, this percentage was more like 30%. The low funding rate discourages young innovative investigators; they give up and go into practice or the pharmaceutical industry. From my reading, 30% would be a good target. At least that many of the proposals my section reviews are very good to excellent. Ergo- the money will not be wasted.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 7

February 8, 2009

The Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Science convened a Clinical Research Roundtable in 2000 to analyze the success of basic research. They reported in 2003 that there is a ?disconnection between the promise of basic science and the delivery of better health.? And that unless new strategies are enacted, the ?data and information produced by the basic science enterprise will not result in a tangible public benefit.? The Journal of the American Medical Association characterized the report as not worded strongly enough. \n\nThe report said, as one commenter has noted, that the problems seem to be administrative. So what? If the billions poured in don't help patients, then what's the point? Jobs?\n\nFurther, the reason for the failure of translation is speculative, the failure isn't. Maybe, and as observers such as Pound have implied, the cause is due to the poor utility of most basic research models, ie animals.\n\nCry all you want, but the CCR observation hasn't been challenged. The massive past increases in NIH funding have been a dismal failure. Argue about why, but arguing that this isn't so is just stupid.\n

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