Funding: Clarifications to Harriman

Gregory R. Harriman gregoryh at
Thu Jan 4 18:51:22 EST 1996

In article <96004.011145U27111 at>, <U27111 at> wrote:

> gregoryh at (Gregory R. Harriman) wrote on 3 Jan 1996:

Stuff deleted.
> > The relevant question is whether the information gained
> > from experiments with these mice will provide knowledge, insight,
> > etc. into medical diseases, such that the benefit outweighs the
> > risk.
> I guess I just don't see that question as being the 'relevant' one
> here?
> For exactly how are we to determine whether the information
> published on such experiments are truly beneficial?
> Especially when dealing with an ever contaminating pool of
> scientific knowledge... contaminated from researchers who's self
> interests outweighs such loftier goals in the first place and a
> system which encourages such behavior?
> And only in time will we eventually find out the 'truth'... time
> many people just don't have.

     It certainly can be difficult to ascertain the benefits of basic
research (and in fact that is why one needs to be cautious before
condemning such research).  At the risk of restating what I have already
mentioned previously; who would have known in the 1950s how important
research on bacterial enzymes (restriction endonucleases) would be for
current biomedical research and medicine.  Ultimately, we can gauge
benefits by how much the research improves our understanding of diseases
and whether it provides ways to better treat those diseases.

     I appreciate your frustration with how slow biomedical science seems
to be advancing.  I too, lost a parent to cancer.  Nonetheless, when you
look at our current knowledge, as compared to only 30 years ago,
significant progress has been made.

> BTW, I had the fortunate opportunity of having a job interview down
> there at Baylor a year ago... probably the best place I have
> interviewed to date!
> Wonderful institution (great 'sounding' animal facility... since I
> couldn't go in and actually see it!)... I was truly impressed from
> what I saw there as well as from the people I met.
> You should feel extremely fortunate to have such a fine refuge from
> the madness which generally goes on just about everywhere else in
> science.
> Sincerely,
> -Kathy

Thanks for the kind comments about Baylor.

Greg Harriman

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