Until recently, the public has known little about the reimbursement of indirect costs of research. Now, however, revelations about alleged abuses concerning some specific indirect costs reimbursements have been well publicized. This has created a good deal of concern, and an understandable demand for accountability and, if necessary, for reform. But how well do the reformers understand the need for appropriate indirect costs, and further, what reforms might be appropriate to satisfy the primary goals of biomedical research?

It is important to keep in mind that reimbursement of legitimate indirect costs is a necessary part of biomedical research. Indeed, the funding of indirect costs has made its own unique contribution to progress against disease. Those of us who work in research institutions could no more get along without electricity, hazardous waste disposal, and working space than we could get along without test tubes, Bunsen burners, fume hoods, and reagents.


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