Funding/Peer Review: to Ellis Golub

David J. States states at ibc.wustl.edu
Wed Dec 20 18:58:51 EST 1995


While I can appreciate that a tremendous amount of thought
has gone into how proposals should be reviewed and available
funding allocated, let us not loose sight of the real issue:
basic scientific research is an essential function of government
that has yielded enormous return on investment; more money
needs to go into research at all levels.

As an illustration, last month at the American Heart Association
meeting, a clinical trial was announced in which it was shown
that choleterol lowering drugs reduce morbidity and mortality
in individual with an elevated cholesterol but no known 
atherosclerotic disease.  About 20% of the population falls
into this category.  The recognitiion of elevated cholesterol
as a risk for heart disease, the elucidation of the cholesterol
biosynthetic pathway, and the identification of critical control
points in that pathway were all a direct result of NIH funded
research.  Cholesterol lowering drugs sell for about $70/month 
most of which is profit (or the drug companies would argue
R&D costs for non-blockbuster drugs).  ~$500 per patient per 
year * 30 million people -> $15 billion dollars.  In the future,
the income from this one class of drugs could well pay for the 
entire NIH budget!

Once again, the government is shutdown.  Some of the most
productive laboratories in the world are closed because they
happen to be intramural components of the federal government.
Funding reviews, study section meetings, and site visits are
again on hold.  The message from Washington seems to be that
basic biomedical research is not an critical function of
government and disrupting research for short term political
gain is OK.  It is not "OK" and we need to let our congressman,
senators, and president know it.

David States



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