NIH Funding Decisions

In the article "Decisions, Decisions: NIH's Disease-By-Disease Allocations Draw New Fire" (B. Agnew, The Scientist, 12[7]:1, March 30, 1998), Harold Varmus (director of National Institutes of Health) seems to evade the issue of funding allocation by promoting NIH-sponsored workshops. These workshops are sure to enhance interdisciplinary research on various diseases, as well as attract the interest of new scientists. My question is: From what source will these new scientists obtain funding? P

Erik Read
Jun 7, 1998

In the article "Decisions, Decisions: NIH's Disease-By-Disease Allocations Draw New Fire" (B. Agnew, The Scientist, 12[7]:1, March 30, 1998), Harold Varmus (director of National Institutes of Health) seems to evade the issue of funding allocation by promoting NIH-sponsored workshops. These workshops are sure to enhance interdisciplinary research on various diseases, as well as attract the interest of new scientists. My question is: From what source will these new scientists obtain funding?

Personally, it's hard to imagine what is more difficult, initiating an interdisciplinary project or getting funding for it. Without more funding it is also difficult to imagine how new scientists would be attracted to a field where funding is already in short supply. At best they must compete with established researchers already trying to maintain their own labs in a peer-review process that is inherently biased against "outsiders." Workshops will not solve these problems.

Erik Read, Ph.D....

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