Grant Taxing: to Dr.States

David J. States states at
Wed Jan 3 13:54:43 EST 1996

Alex Berezin wrote:
> What are the CONSTRUCTIVE proposals from YOUR side ?

While the current system is imperfect, it has produced 
remarkable results over many years.  I would like to

1) support for people and institutions - Institutions are 
built on people and to my view are the primary vehicle through 
which support for people as opposed to projects should be 
channeled.  But our academic insitutions are under real
stress and the future holds significant new challenges
(the increasingly litigious field of intellectual property,
competition from network based remote learning centers, 
politicization of research funding, and a profound 
anti-intellectual undercurrent to contemporary political 
debate, increasing demands on charity for social services, 
etc.).  Strong and diverse support for academic institutions 
needs to be fostered.  Scientists must be active in 
politics, broadly defined.  

2) establish a biomedical research trust fund - the health
care and biotechnology industry depends on basic biomedical
science, but for good economic reasons it may not make sense 
for a private company to devote resources to basic research 
that will not payoff for many years or may even benefit 
competitors as much as the company itself.  Just as our 
national highway system is maintained and extended by a tax 
on gasoline paid by all drivers, our biomedical research 
infrastructure should be supported by an assessment on all 
health care expenditures that is insulated from the vagaries 
and fluctuations of day to day politics.

3) move to earlier decisions on career development - we are 
abusing young scientists by insisting on an extended doctorate 
followed by one or more postdoc positions before considering 
them for a tenure track position.  It is unreasonable to expect
professionals to subsist at poverty wages and to delay marriage
and family until their mid or late thirties.  Better to make 
the hard decisions early while there is still time to develop 
alternative careers.

Competitve peer review of research funding remains a corner
stone of science policy, and I would not change that.

David States

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