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NIH budget cuts and the looming Ebola epidemic

As the federal government frantically works to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and as it responds to a second diagnosis of the disease at home, one of the country’s top health officials says a vaccine likely would have already been discovered were it not for budget cuts. Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down”…

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NIH’s world research reporting tool

An article published in Science last week discusses the value of creating a global map of health R&D activity to improve coordination of research and create a “global observatory” for health research. I encourage you to check it out, and I also thought it was a timely reminder for discussing updates to the world research reporting tool I blogged about in March last year. The World Research Portfolio Online Reporting…

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U.S. Science Suffering From Booms And Busts In Funding

Leif Parsons for NPR Ten years ago, Robert Waterland got an associate professorship at Baylor College of Medicine and set off to study one of the nation’s most pressing health problems: obesity. In particular, he’s been trying to figure out the biology behind why children born to obese women are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Waterland got sustaining funding from the National Institutes of Health and used it…

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The Importance of Funding Basic Science Research

FASEB, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology runs an annual Stand Up For Science competition, and in 2013, the goal was to increase awareness of the value of US federal funding for biological and biomedical research. The winning video is below, and it makes a compelling argument for the funding of basic science. So much of the science funding mindset has seemingly been influenced by Wall Street’s  “get…

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Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws

Competition in pursuit of experimental objectives has always been a part of the scientific enterprise, and it can have positive effects. However, hypercompetition for the resources and positions that are required to conduct science suppresses the creativity, cooperation, risk-taking, and original thinking required to make fundamental discoveries. Now that the percentage of NIH grant applications that can be funded has fallen from around 30% into the low teens, biomedical scientists…

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Science reviews FY2015 White House budget proposal

President Barack Obama on Tuesday released a $3.901 trillion budget request to Congress, including proposals for a host of federal research agencies. The unveiling is just the beginning of the annual budget process; Congress will now chew on the proposal, and is likely to ignore many of the White House’s suggestions. Still, the budget request offers insight into the White House’s research priorities, and can play an important role in…

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NIH BEST program not quite best yet

A love of science can inspire a career in research, but it is not enough to deliver the goods: Only about 15% of biomedical Ph.D. researchers ever secure a tenure-track position. The rest end up—often after a long, uncertain transition—in a very wide range of careers. In 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) committed to doing more to help this other 85% by (among other initiatives) providing some training…

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NIH plans to enhance reproducibility

Chris Ryan/Nature A growing chorus of concern, from scientists and laypeople, contends that the complex system for ensuring the reproducibility of biomedical research is failing and is in need of restructuring. As leaders of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), we share this concern and here explore some of the significant interventions that we are planning. Science has long been regarded as ‘self-correcting’, given that it is founded on…

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