Posts Tagged ‘life science funding’

Is Private Funding Threatening Life Science?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-22-2014

In a thought-provoking article that appeared in The Atlantic earlier this week, journalist Maribel Morey pondered whether the trend towards privatization of scientific funding should be welcomed by the American public.

According to Morey, due to the cut in federal funding, individual philanthropists have taken it upon themselves to provide large sums of money to scientific projects that are near and dear to their hearts. Jonathan and Mindy Gray, for example, have given over $30 Million to the University of Pennsylvania in order to fund cancer research at that institution. The Gray’s have specified that the funds be used for cancer research in honor of Mrs. Grays sister who passed away from ovarian cancer.

While this may seem like a praiseworthy endeavor on the part of the Grays and other philanthropists like them, critics worry, however, that by enabling privatization of science, we are essentially sidetracking the democratic process by which the public decides which research is worthy of funding and which is not.

While the concept of private funding of science may not be new, in the past, philanthropists worked through foundations and relied upon board directors and foundation trustees to allocate their donations. This third party involvement, put funding decisions at arms length from the philanthropist, and gave the impression that the money was being donated with the needs of the public in mind over the interests of the philanthropist. Nowadays, anyone with a pocket full of cash and a favorite gene or disease can use their influence to sway the balance of research to fit their personal agenda.

Nonetheless, private scientific funding offers the benefit of allowing scientists to conduct research without having to jump over many hoops and spill liters of ink in applying for research grants that they may not ever see. In fact private funding has been so important to the advancement of scientific research that the creation of America’s two largest public funding bodies, the NSF and the NIH, were inspired by private science foundations back at the turn of the century.

So which is the right way to go? Both public and private sources of funding have their evangelists and detractors. I thing you’d be hard pressed to find any research scientist who would refuse to accept money from a private donor in favor of supporting the public funding system.

I wouldn’t turn down the money. Would you?

New NIH Resubmission Rule Great for Young Investigators

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-29-2014

According to a new policy released earlier this month, the National Institute of Health (NIH) will now allow unsuccessful applicants to resubmit their application for the next application round without including any new information in the resubmitted grant.

The NIH claimed that due to the funding crisis, many meritorious applications, which would have otherwise been funded, were turned down. According to the old policy, the rejected applications could not be resubmitted in their original form and would have had to be reworked before being resubmitted. The effect of this policy was that applicants would have to add new material in the resubmitted grant, despite the fact that the application was strong to begin with. Furthermore, young investigators, already dejected by the original grant rejection, were more apt to leave their positions rather than having to redo and resubmit their original grant. By allowing scientists to resubmit their original grant without significant changes, the NIH will significantly increase the number of meritorious applications in subsequent rounds.

Until October 2008, the NIH did not have resubmission rules governing the grant application process. In a sweeping change in 2008, the NIH placed restrictions on the type of content applicants were allowed to resubmit and instituted a two strike rule that meant that the applicant needed to substantially re-design the project rather than simply change the application in response to previous reviews. The new policy reverses that ruling and will hopefully encourage more young investigators to pursue their dreams without the fear of rejection or failure.

Why American Patriots Need to Support Science

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-12-2014

Eloquently said by The Science Guy.


Is President Obama Still Committed to Science?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-04-2014

Here’s a video from the archives. Watch President-Elect Obama discuss his commitment to science in November 2009. These were pre-sequestration days. Four years later, do you think that President Obama is still as committed to science?

Road to Research Funding Recovery? Not So Fast!

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-21-2014

Although 2013 was a terrible year for research funding, there is some indication that American scientists might see in increase in their spending budget this coming year. According to an Associated Press article posted in OA online 6 days ago, the government has earmarked $29.9 billion out of its $1.1 trillion 2014 spending budget for the National Institute of Health (NIH). This represents a $1 billion dollar increase above 2013 funding levels and will provide a much needed boost to the drastic drop in research funding caused by the sequester.

Yet despite its positive tone, others are cautioning that the $1 billion increase may not be enough. According to Sen. Bod Casey of Pennsylvania, the proposes 2014 budget, increase and all, still falls way short of the NIH’s 2009 funding levels. Furthermore, according to the Huffington Post, the 2014 budget is $714 million less than pre-sequestration NIH funding and smaller than all of President George W. Bush’s NIH budgets with the exception of his first year in office.

The publication Nature offered a further glimpse into how the so-called funding-boost may really be less rosy than it appears for biomedical research. According to Nature, the funding increase will provide physical science research with small increases over 2012 levels. On the other hand, biomedical research will actually experience a budget decline of approximately $800 million below 2012 funding levels. According to the Whit House Office of Management and Budget, the NIH will receive $29,926 million in 2014 compared to $30,702 in 2012 and the CDC will receive $5,807 million in 2014 compared to $5,656 in 2012. Taking into account the impact of inflation, these numbers seem particularly dismal.

What lesson needs to be learned from this story? The next time you hear that the US is on the road to recovery, be sure to check your blind spots before changing lanes. You may be surprised at the dangers that are lurking behind you.