Politicians say NIH funding is “perfectly adequate”. Bullsh*t.

by morgan · 6 comments


The message below was forwarded to me by a colleague about the dire funding situation, and in particular, about the lack of understanding that the present Whitehouse/administration/congress has of its effects.  These colleagues have started an official petition via the “We the people” site (sponsored by the Whitehouse), and if this petition gets enough digital signatories, there will be an automatic trigger for the executive branch to consider and respond to this issue “officially.” 

So, if you’re at all concerned about science funding in the US, now’s the time to speak up!  Do you really want politicians continuing to believe that things are just fine?

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Here’s the forwarded message from my colleague:

I was on a recent conference call with White House officials, during which research funding was discussed. It seemed to me that these officials did not fully understand the central importance of NIH funding to our national research enterprise, to our local economies, to the retention and careers of our most talented and well-educated people, to the survival of our medical educational system, to our rapidly fading worldwide dominance in biomedical research, to job creation and preservation, to national economic viability, and to our national academic infrastructure. In response to a question from a participant, they staunchly defended the proposed flat $30.7 billion FY 2013 NIH budget as being perfectly adequate, remarking that “The NIH receives more funding than any other research entity; it will continue to be strong; it will do just fine.”

This statement is patently false. The proposed flat NIH budget will severely exacerbate a catastrophic crisis that has been ongoing since 2003, when growth in NIH funding fell (and has continued to fall every subsequent year) behind the rate of inflation. As a consequence of this deeply flawed public policy, promising careers have been cut short, amazing research projects have been aborted, hundreds of laboratories nationwide have shrunk or been shut down, established and accomplished senior researchers have been forced to abandon their programs, young scientists have departed from research of even left the country (even after many years of productive training), thousands of ancillary jobs have been lost, our worldwide medical research dominance has been eroded (ceded to China, India, and other nations), and a large support network of laboratory supply and biotechnology companies has been drastically attenuated.

We successfully rescued the auto industry because we understood the ramifications of letting it fail. Our biomedical research infrastructure is just as far-reaching and vitally important to our nation’s economy as is the auto industry. I hope that our Administration understands this.

In response to this apparent lack of understanding of the current medical research crisis, I started the following petition:

Dear friends,

I write to let you know about a recently created petition on “We the People”, a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov <http://WhiteHouse.gov> , and ask for your support. If this petition gets 25,000 signatures by March 18, 2012, the White House will review it and respond!

We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

“You can view and sign the petition here:

http://wh.gov/R3R (added 2/19/12: this is the new link after the White House shut our other one down with >24,000 signatures and 10 hours to go)

Here’s some more information about this petition:

Increase NIH budget to $33 billion dollars next fiscal year! A flat $30.7 billion will kill jobs and hurt research.

Increase NIH spending to $33 billion! The proposed flat NIH budget will close labs nationwide, kill good-paying jobs, damage our worldwide medical research dominance, and hurt state economies. NIH jobs cannot be outsourced. NIH funding created 350,000 jobs and contributed $50 billion to the national economy in 2007! Insource our jobs!!

Stephen J. Meltzer, M.D.
The Harry & Betty Myerberg/Thomas R. Hendrix Professor
Departments of Medicine (GI Division) and Oncology
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine & Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
1503 E. Jefferson Street, Room 112
Baltimore, MD 21287

Please, don’t delay in taking action on this petition!


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