humanegene2 text file

Jim Owens jow at helix.nih.gov
Thu Mar 10 09:55:39 EST 1994


In article <9403091410571144 at bbs.puc.edu> Larry Won,
larry.won at bbs.puc.edu writes:
>    But that aside, I would think that the Genome Project people should
>keep working on finding the entire human genome though their timetable
>goal may not be met.  Just concentrating on disease gene finding would
>seem the most worthwhile thing to do with the shortage of money but in
>the long run knowing the human genome will prove to be more
>advantageous.

A comment with some (my) historical perspective:

Managers and supporters of large government-sponsored projects must keep
a realistic eye on projected timetables.  (That's the comment.  Here is
the perspective.)  The "war on cancer" was highly touted by cancer
lobbying organizations before it was passed by Congress in 1972.  The
American Cancer Society took out ads in the NY Times, the Washington
Post, and other large city papers claiming that if the "war on cancer"
was approved cancer could be cured in five years.  This line was also
taken by the health research lobbyists.  Politicians signed on from left,
right and the middle.

The money was not wasted.  Lots of important discoveries have been made
about regulation of cell development and cell division.  But the magic
bullet for cancer has not been found.  What did the politicians do after
10 years?  They wanted that cure they were promised and the NCI budget
has seemingly, to us who work in it, been restricted (in growth) in the
face of the "war on AIDS."  

Certainly, when I came to NCI in 1975, money was not mentioned in the
lab.  We did not know our budget.  It was not a worry for our lab chief. 
That began to change so that I was aware of it in the mid-80's.  Each
year the screws have been tightened in spite of good reviews of the lab
by outside site visitors.  Two people have moved on because they got
tired of waiting for "tenure."  Now the number of people working in our
lab is dropping.  Not everyone who is leaving is being replaced.  The new
people seem to be those who do not rely on the US government for a
salary.  I wonder if this is the wave of the future for NIH?

Just a few thoughts into the network from a low-level lab rat.  They are
not those of NCI, NIH, Sam Broder, etc., or anyone important.

Jim Owens



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