Posts Tagged ‘Grant Funding’

Why the medical system cannot handle your info and what can be done about it

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-03-2011

Yesterday, we told you about a study that found that family physicians are ill-prepared when it comes to diagnosing and treating patients based on their genomic data. As a follow up to that story, I’d like to bring your attention to a recent post by W. Gregory Feero, MD, PhD on KevinMD which talks about the overwhelming growth of genomic data and how the pace of discovery is far exceeding the capacity of the health care system’s IT infrastructure.

According to Dr. Feero, medical record keeping in the United States is a far cry away from being able to house the hundreds of petabytes of genomic data that will eventually need to be stored in their systems. Furthermore, upgrading to compatible systems are bound to be prohibitively expensive. He also postulates that the falling cost of genome sequencing might make it cheaper to sequence individual data on an as-needed basis as opposed to storing the data en-masse.

For further reading visit Data overload and the pace of genomic science

Your opportunity to influence NIH funding

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-27-2011

Rarely do scientists get an opportunity to influence the funding direction of the largest granting agency in the United States, the National Institute of Health. Yet that is exactly what we are being asked to do in the NIH’s latest request for information.

The NIH is requesting that the scientific community send in its ideas on how best to support or accelerate neuroscience research. Responses should address:

  1. areas of neuroscience research that could be accelerated by the development of specific research resources or tools
  2. major opportunities for, and impediments to, advancing neuroscience research
  3. the 2-3 highest priority tools or resources needed to capitalize on the scientific opportunities and overcome obstacles to progress in neuroscience research
  4. how NIH Blueprint might best facilitate the development of these tools/resources

Your answers could influence where neuroscience funding is directed over the next couple of years so be sure to checkout the NIH website to add your two cents!

Raising Scientific Funds the Amazon Way

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-13-2011

There was an interesting story in the NY Times the other day which was picked by GenomeWeb’s The Daily Scan regarding a couple of biologists who have turned to non-traditional sources of funding to partially fund their research experiments.

The scientific duo from the Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station in Claremont, Calif, have raised close to $5,000 from online sales of t-shirts and trading cards which will pay for their lab equipment and travel expenses required to conduct their studies in Mexico. While this level of funding certainly would not be sufficient for even the smallest molecular biology lab, their funding methodology is unique and I believe that they should be commended for their resourcefulness.

As we have mentioned in the past, non-peer reviewed fundraising is not entirely new to the biological research community. In a post written several months ago, we told you how the Kanzius foundation is on its way to raising $250,000 through a Facebook campaign. We also told you about the Search for Research campaign promoted on BenchFly which helps raise money for research using a search engine advertizing strategy.

We all hate writing grants and although non-traditional fundraising efforts will not replace traditional sources of funding any time soon, it is still fun to hear about the different activities people are willing to try in order to fund their research.

What “out of the box” fundraising efforts have you come across?

NIH funding protected despite recent media scare

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-26-2011

One of the biggest stories making its way around the life science community this week is the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) creation of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The story first appeared in the New York Times (NYT) on January 22nd and has generated confusion and concern among scientists worried about their future funding. In this post, I will attempt to summarize the NYT article and the reactions it has received from both the NIH and the general public.

The NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers and funds over $31.2 billion annually in medical research. Suffice to say the NIH funds the majority of America’s medical R&D programs and therefore any changes to the NIH funding structure is bound to garner concern among American scientists.

According to the NYT article, the NIH will be creating a new center called the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The purpose of NCATS will be to help advance drug and biomedical research in an academic environment until it reaches a mature stage where pharma and biotech companies are prepared to purchase the technology and turn it into a commercial therapeutic. The NYT mentions that

“under the plan, more than $700 million in research projects already under way at various institutes and centers would be brought together at the new center”

The article also contains a statement that has been responsible for much of this week’s controversy.

“Dr. (Francis) Collins (director of the NIH) has hinted that he is willing to cannibalize other parts of the health institutes to bring more resources to the new center.”

In practical terms, this means that the NIH would have to get rid of one of the existing centers in order for the plan to move forward in a timely fashion. As a result, the NIH has decided to close the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) which funds 30,000 scientists to the tune of $1.25 billion annually.

The creation of NCATS has generated 55 pages of comments/complaints which can be viewed on the NCATS complaint blog. A large number of comments have been posted by NCRR investigators worried that the collapse of the NCRR will lead to the discontinuation of their project’s funding. Many are concerned that their funding will dry up altogether while others are worried about the dilution affect that breaking up NCRR and spreading its programs throughout the remaining institutes will have on the quality of their research. For example, Dr. Richard Winn writes:

“I have been alerted to the potential fate of the NCRR Division of Comparative Medicine as part of the NCATS. As a researcher focused on using primarily rodent and aquatic animal models, the Division of Comparative Medicine has provided for me the solitary group that consistently recognized and promoted the use of diverse animal models in advancing biomedical research. Recent advances in nearly all of the “omics” (e.g. genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.)have reinforced and proven the value of comparative approaches. However, efforts to “simplify” programs under the guise of administrative expediency will threaten the necessary focus of such approaches. Comparative Medicine needs to be maintained as a discrete entity under a single administrative leadership and management. Please consider carefully how such re-organization can ultimately disrupt a vibrant and productive research community.”

All this has forced Dr. Collins et al. to release a statement entitled Separating fact & fiction: News about the proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences which can be viewed here.His response consists of five bullet points with the two key messages identified below:

  • For the most part, the budget and staff for each relocated program will remain with that program
  • There are no plans to “cannibalize” the budgets or programs of other NIH Institutes and Centers to form NCATS

So, if you are currently funded by the NCRR, you likely have little cause for concern.

Furthermore, as expressed by Mathew Herper at Forbes, the creation of an institute that focuses on advancing drug development “is a smart approach for academic researchers to take if they want to develop drugs” and will help in the advancement and commercialization of treatments in areas that would have otherwise not have been developed by large drug companies (such as rare diseases).

American biologists to be spared wrath of grant cutting public

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-13-2010

Talk about armchair politics! In a tax-saving initiative dubbed “YouCut,” Republican Majority Leader-Elect Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Nebraska congressman Adrian Smith invite the public to identify National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that are wasteful or that they feel are not a good use of taxpayer dollars. The YouCut webpage includes a link to a list of NSF funded project and an online form that visitors can fill out with “wasteful” grant ID numbers.

The good news for the American Biotechnologist community is that congressman Smith’s message is clearly not directed at the biological sciences which he refers to as “worthy research in the hard sciences.” However, those engaged in social science or psychology beware! The House is out to get you!

In a thought provoking blog post, NewScientist points out that some of the “wasteful” grants cited by congressman Smith (such as $750,000 to develop computer models to analyze the on-field contributions of soccer players) are actually rooted in “hard science” and will become unfortunate casualties of this battle against wasteful spending.

While most of us would agree that scientists should be given the intellectual freedom to pursue their research as they see fit, I would argue that not all research projects are worthy of being funded by public tax dollars. Congress is now opening up the floor for public input into the matter. If you do vote, please be sure to do your homework and vote responsibly. Also, be sure to let us know which grants you’ve voted against or if there are any non-NSF funded research projects that you believe should never receive public funding.