TS Picks: March 23, 2017
Reacting to the White House budget proposal; tracking “attacks on science”
WIKIMEDIA, NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:
Harold Varmus, who was director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1993 to 1999 and director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute from 2010 to 2015, views President Donald Trump’s proposed NIH budget cuts as a sign of the administration’s disregard for science. “Even if negotiations produce cuts less severe than the president proposes for 2018, it seems likely that he will not be any more respectful of the NIH—or of science in general—in ensuing years,” Varmus wrote in an opinion for The New York Times. Varmus also pointed out, as The Scientist reported this week (March 21), that there has been no indication the president will choose a Science Advisor anytime soon.
American Society of Clinical Oncology President Daniel Hayes wrote in STAT News that the administration’s plan “to slash the nation’s investment in biomedical research by nearly 20 percent . . . makes no sense for our patients, our citizens, or our scientists.” Hayes, clinical director of the Breast Oncology Program at the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, added that, to date, “the federal government’s investments in biomedical research, which directly support the work of American scientists, have delivered longer, fuller lives for people with cancer and other serious diseases, not only in our country but around the world.”
Might ongoing research reproducibility initiatives be detrimental to science? Richard Shiffrin, a professor of cognitive science at Indiana University in Bloomington, said he thinks they could. Given politicians’ past criticism of federally funds for certain types of research, “the fact that we’re trying to fix things and make things better [with reproducibility initiatives] may not be the message that gets through at the other end of the pipeline,” Shiffrin told The Chronicle of Higher Education. Of recent high-profile reproducibility projects, he added, “I don’t think that their intent is to harm science—their intent is probably to help. But there’s unintended consequences of many of these things.”
The nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy organization, is documenting what it considers “attacks on science,” including the Trump administration’s executive order on regulations and the removal of information from government websites.