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Up To 1000 NIH Investigators Dropped Out Last Year

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the this-epidemic-must-be-studied-somehow dept.

Government 111

sciencehabit writes "New data show that after remaining more or less steady for a decade, the number of investigators with National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding dropped sharply last year by at least 500 researchers and as many as 1000. Although not a big surprise—it came the same year that NIH's budget took a 5% cut—the decline suggests that a long-anticipated contraction in the number of labs supported by NIH may have finally begun."

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Out of ~22,000 (4, Informative)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 7 months ago | (#46441945)

Without something to anchor your 500-1000 number, who will know how outraged they need to be?

Re:Out of ~22,000 (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 7 months ago | (#46442183)

Without something to anchor your 500-1000 number, who will know how outraged they need to be?

I agree! For example, is this Less Than, Greater Than, or Equal To deporting the finest Ice Hockey Player in all of Ecuador?
I can't bother to get worked up over something if it is just a "Best Ballerina on Bora Bora" level event...

Re:Out of ~22,000 (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 7 months ago | (#46442221)

If you look at the chart at the link, it's 500-1000 out of 22000 or so -- 22000 is an all time high. So it's obviously the most outrageous outrage in history and we should all panic and wail and rend our clothes.

Re:Out of ~22,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442273)

But we are cutting little jobs, paychecks for humans,

Meaningless without context (5, Informative)

realxmp (518717) | about 7 months ago | (#46442397)

Without something to anchor your 500-1000 number, who will know how outraged they need to be?

And without knowing what those investigators were doing neither number is particularly useful. That's 1000 investigators and their entire lab staff most of them being scientists doing useful research not administrators etc. Unfortunately this doesn't just affect the current generation of scientists, it affects the next generation too. Not all of these labs will close, but there will certainly be a lot less capacity to take students and post docs. How this will impact research is pretty hard to predict, unfortunately it looks a bit more like the blunderbuss approach than the precision cull of the herd with a rifle and scope.

Re:Meaningless without context (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442981)

Not all of these labs will close, but there will certainly be a lot less capacity to take students and post docs.

Fewer people will even make it that far when a line of research and certain fields get know to be shrinking. Current grad students, postdocs and young researchers will warn incoming people that things are getting harder and to go try other fields of research or lines of work. It is not like we lose the bottom part of the distribution and the best and brightest continue to do research, but people across the board get dissatisfied or view it as too risky and jump ship. I've watched friends and colleagues fed up from political roller coasters in their own field, and end up going into other work, anywhere from generic software development, to Wall St. to occasionally science or engineering industry work related to what they actually specialized in.

Re:Meaningless without context (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46444245)

Fewer people will even make it that far when a line of research and certain fields get know to be shrinking. Current grad students, postdocs and young researchers will warn incoming people that things are getting harder and to go try other fields of research or lines of work. It is not like we lose the bottom part of the distribution and the best and brightest continue to do research, but people across the board get dissatisfied or view it as too risky and jump ship.

Speaking as an academic, we've been telling prospective grad students that there are no academic jobs out there for 20 years. No one goes into academia because they think it's going to be a secure, well-paid job - they go into academia because they have a personal passion and curiosity for discovery and are often willing to make significant personal sacrifices to satisfy that passion. They'll take their PhD and 10 years of higher education to work 60 hour weeks as a postdoc for $40k (and think that's awesome because they lived the previous 6 years on $20k). They'll spend 6-10 years as a "temporary" postdoc.

I remember when US universities could recruit faculty from Canada or Europe because our funding model allowed them to do more exciting work. That's not so true anymore. The faculty candidates I talk to now cite the EU especially as a more stable platform - maybe not as many Euros/dollars, but at least the hope that they won't have to spend more time writing grants than doing science. Innovation in the US has always depended on siphoning the best brains from around the world, but current policy does little to encourage immigration.

Re:Meaningless without context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46447183)

Yes, the chances of getting into academia in a well funded field is difficult as is. The difference is that despite the warnings that your chances of staying in academia after getting a PhD are slim, you still see plenty of enthusiasm in the people who did stay in the field and are teaching incoming students (after all, they got to stick around). When they start seeing cuts, they will complain a lot more. Sentiment changes from, "While unlikely, if you put your nose to the grind stone you can still have a chance of getting your dream job," to, "it is hopeless." There is a subtle shift from students spending effort applying to many academic jobs and then bailing to industry when they don't get any, to students not even bothering to apply for postdoc positions. Part of the impact is that people who stay in academia are not on the basis of choosing the best of the best, but choosing the best from a smaller pool determined by who hasn't gotten frustrated yet.

Re:Meaningless without context (1)

TopherC (412335) | about 7 months ago | (#46445367)

I would naively have expected that cuts to NIH programs would have low impact relative to programs funded by NASA and DoE. I don't have much knowledge of the NIH programs, but I feel like they are shorter term studies with less specialized infrastructure involved. So a 5% cut in funding there has closer to a 5% reduction in output. But DoE and NASA programs are often 10 to 20-year projects. If you cut funding one year (and they have cut funding 5-10% every year for a long time), you start cancelling programs and losing the money already spent. An oversimplified model would be that if you fund one of these agencies for, say, $5B for 8 years, $2B the 9th year, and then $8B the 10th year you'd get $20B worth of "output" not the $50B you've spent. In year 9 programs get cancelled, equipment mothballed, and people leave the field.

Re:Meaningless without context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46443861)

"That's 1000 investigators and their entire lab staff most of them being scientists doing useful research"

Do you have evidence for this? From my perspective it appears >80% of what is being published by NIH funded research is wrong. After seeing how their "science" works this would not surprise me. I would genuinely like to see some strong evidence that anything has been accomplished in the last 20 years.

Re:Meaningless without context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46446835)

Your "perspective" seems to involve your head being inside your ass. You might want to think about removing it from there.

Re:Meaningless without context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46447625)

So you have nothing? I am serious. I want to see evidence that the system is functioning correctly. Most likely you are ignorant of what is really going on and assume I don't know what I am talking about. That is fine, but I assure you that I do.

The point isn't how many we're losing (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 7 months ago | (#46442487)

it's that we're losing _any_. We've had 30 years of constant productivity increases. These are the sort of jobs we were promised would replace all the Manufacturing jobs that went away for those 30 years. Now some of them are going away. It's suppose to be growing, not shrinking.

Welcome to a third-rate USA (1, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about 7 months ago | (#46441971)

Now that the anti-tax movement has won, we can look forward to the destruction of the greatest source of innovation the U.S. -- and the world -- has ever seen.

Get ready for the visionaries who tell us that the source of American innovation is guys working in garages, and all we have to do is lower taxes on garages to unleash the flow of productivity.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Iconoc (2646179) | about 7 months ago | (#46441981)

On which planet has the anti-tax movement won?

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (4, Informative)

hey! (33014) | about 7 months ago | (#46441999)

On which planet has the anti-tax movement won?

That would be this one [wikimedia.org] .

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (-1, Troll)

Iconoc (2646179) | about 7 months ago | (#46442029)

Administration policies are anti-tax? Really? The GDP suffers due to the heavy load of higher taxes and regulation.

The real story is that things like NASA, NIH, Roads/Bridges, border enforcement aren't important to dear leader, so the budget for those entities suffers.

Now make the case that NASA has suffered due to the anti-tax movement. I'm listening.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442067)

The anti-tax movement decided to go down with the ship in the form of the sequester. Now, we all suffer.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442101)

The anti-tax movement decided to go down with the ship in the form of the sequester. Now, we all suffer.

You mean the sequester that was reversed (for all but defense spending) in the recent funding bills?

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442119)

The sequester does not cause numbers like this. Please stop your partisan bullshit and understand that the sequester is not to blame for everything. As long as people like you think you can describe the problems of this nation in two sentences (while still getting in your own agenda's jabs) then nothing will really change.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1, Troll)

Bartles (1198017) | about 7 months ago | (#46442271)

Anytime someone says, "stop your partisan bullshit,' you can be damned sure a solid stream of partisan bullshit is about to follow.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 7 months ago | (#46442421)

Sequester didn't cut spending thought. It only reduced increased in spending... let it sink in.. reduced increases... so increases still happened... just not as large as they would have been without the sequester.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46442109)

The GDP is doing just fine as usual. If the people who actually did all the work got to see those gains, we might get somewhere.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1, Flamebait)

superwiz (655733) | about 7 months ago | (#46442431)

Hate to brake to you, but this was 100% on Democrats. Spending went up. It just didn't go towards NIH funding. And it is the Democrats (the party in power) who decided where the funding went.

DINO (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 7 months ago | (#46442497)

Democrat in Name Only. There's several of them. Plus the Dems aren't really in power. The Republicans have threatened to drive this country over a cliff multiple times (debt ceiling). This last time the Pres said: "Go for it, I think we can survive and you won't", but it wasn't that he called their bluff. They were never bluffing. The only reason they backed down is they thought they'd be hurt themselves....

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1, Insightful)

meglon (1001833) | about 7 months ago | (#46442507)

....if you ignore the fucking idiot teabaggers in the House; and, quite frankly, you'd have to be an idiot teabagger to do that. Why do conservatives lie all the time?

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46442557)

This.

Just the other day someone tried to argue to me that the sad state of the economy was the fault of Libertarians. And of course I replied (paraphrase) "Ahem... it wasn't Libertarians who made the laws, it was the Democrats."

For 5 years now, going on 6, Democrats have solidly controlled spending, and monetary and fiscal policy. Despite all the Democrat bitching about Republicans, the Democrats haven't been blocked for long over any of their larger spending or fiscal policy issues.

And you can see the result. Obama and friends have been spending your children's livelihood away, while at the same time working to deprive them of jobs.

Look at the facts: jobs are up a bit since the 2009 low... but really not that much. Even with that, many of the "buffer" of people who stopped looking for work, are now starting to look again, which keeps even the official unemployment numbers pretty high. And on top of that, inflation is high again. And no surprise, since it was the inevitable result of Obama's (and the Fed's) monetary policy since 2008.

(Before anybody starts arguing with me about inflation: if you're a Democrat, the official bottom line is that minimum wage hikes follow inflation, rather than lead them, right? Isn't that official Democrat dogma? That minimum wage hikes don't cause inflation? Well, if that's so, then tell me: why is Obama making noises about raising minimum wages to $10.10, when it was raised to $7.25 only about 5 years ago? That's 39% in just 5 years... that's HUGE. And if you don't believe that logic -- which is your own party's logic -- then just take a look at your grocery bill.)

What we have is 70s stagflation all over again. What the government did about it THEN didn't help... and they can't even do that now because the Fed doesn't have room to do more "Quantitative Easing" or lowering of interest rates!

Thanks, Obama and Democrats. I'll be sure to tell the children who was in charge.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46442781)

You were doing fine for about one sentence. Then you got all partisan. Look at what the economy has done under the reps, look at what it's done under the dems, realize that most of the presidents who presided over a time of economic health were receiving a windfall that had nothing to do with their administration and little to do with the prior administration. For example, the economy surged under Clinton, but it was a bubble that would have happened no matter who was president.

I don't know if the libertarians could improve anything, but I know the republicrats are not the solution.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46443207)

"You were doing fine for about one sentence. Then you got all partisan."

The WHOLE POINT is partisan. The comment I was replying to is partisan. The reality of our existence for the last 5 years or so has been very partisan.

"Look at what the economy has done under the reps, look at what it's done under the dems, realize that most of the presidents who presided over a time of economic health were receiving a windfall that had nothing to do with their administration and little to do with the prior administration. For example, the economy surged under Clinton, but it was a bubble that would have happened no matter who was president."

But that was then. Prior (recent) decades have very little to do with the current situation because of the 2008 disaster. It really does make a very big difference. The Democrats have been trying to use the same policies that failed during the Great Depression... as though they learned nothing from history over the last 80 years. (Which really isn't too surprising, because they listened to their own propaganda about that period rather than looking at the actual historical evidence, which says FDR prolonged the Depression by as much as 10 years with his foolish policies. His own Treasure Secretary thought he was a nutcase.)

Regardless of who caused the economic slump of 2008 (I have opinions but that's a completely different discussion), it has been up to the Democrats to pull us out, and they have done a singularly terrible job of it.

"I don't know if the libertarians could improve anything, but I know the republicrats are not the solution."

I won't argue with you there. One of my very biggest objections to the Democrats' behavior this past 5 years is that I suspect it could lead to a backlash flood of votes for hard-right-wing Republicans, starting this year. And I don't want to see that either.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46445589)

The reality of our existence for the last 5 years or so has been very partisan.

Well, you say that, but in actuality the rich run both parties, and the rich are getting what they want for the most part, and the rest of us are getting the short straws. This apparently partisan conflict is simply in the script. They re-examine the script every four years or so, decide if they'll run the same president, proceed to have him elected, and then we proceed to blame all of our problems on partisan politics.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46446665)

Spin it like you want, but the fact is that the Democrats are the ones who have been getting their proposed laws passed. Period.

Therefore, it is the Democrats who have been running the government.

I don't deny (and I mentioned as much above) that the Republicans have been complicit in all this Democrat control-freakishness. But the fact still remains that it is Democrat-proposed bills and laws that have been getting passed. It is still the Democrats who have basically been in charge.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46446769)

... And here's another indication: you know how "politically correct" Slashdot has been in recent years. Make a disparaging comment about Republicans, or "Tea Party", or Libertarians -- no matter how insulting or counter-factual -- get modded up or at least left alone. Make some factual comments about Democrats, as I have here, get modded down as "troll", "flamebait", or "overrated" (I have received all 3 in this one thread).

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442793)

I'm not a big Obama fan (I voted Green the past two elections), but claiming the Democrats have controlled spending for the past 6 years is absurd. The Republicans have controlled the house and the Democrats have done a poor job of negotiating with them (although I'll be willing to accept that the Democrat's goals might not actually differ from the Republicans' as much as they claim).

On the minimum wage, some graphs of the historical value adjusted for inflation [dol.gov] show that $10.10 is in fact matching inflation. It just seems like a large jump because real wages have been decreasing for decades.

I agree that Obama and the Democratic party have shown poor leadership and handling of the economic crisis, just nitpicking some details.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46443265)

"On the minimum wage, some graphs of the historical value adjusted for inflation show that $10.10 is in fact matching inflation. It just seems like a large jump because real wages have been decreasing for decades."

You missed my point I think, which was that according to the Democrats themselves, minimum wage is intended to compensate for inflation (as opposed to creating inflation). But: the minimum was raised to $7.25 about 5 years ago... so what does raising it to $10.10 say about real inflation? They're in a position in which they have to either admit that $10 is a ridiculous figure, or admit that their numbers for inflation are scarcely more than fabrications. (I say this knowing other figures that show inflation is in fact higher than the government admits; the minimum wage thing is just one way to show that to other people.)

As for those charts you reference, I take any current data from the government with a grain of salt the size of a bowling ball. Especially CPI (which is one of the major things they base their inflation figures on) and GDP, which they haven't calculated honestly at least since I have been old enough to know what they were. As a matter of fact, learning about economics and things like how government calculates CPI, when I was still a youngster in college, was one of the things that began to really clue me in to the fact that our government has been habitually less than honest with its citizens.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46442715)

You want to blame a 40-50 year long trend on Obama? It could be argued that in the '70s, there was general recession that depressed a lot of things. However, the trend really caught fire with Reagan. GDP shot up, income did not.

We get excuse after excuse but still income is flat while GDP soars. Somehow, the 'solution' always seems to be big tax cuts for the people whose income is already keeping up with the GDP, or less regulations on those same people, or a big fat handout to those who need it least. Yet somehow, income remains flat and GDP grows like kudzu.

To be fair, the Democrats today more closely resemble Republicans of the Nixon era. I have no idea what sort of wingnuts back in the day the GOP resemble now.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442133)

Administration policies are anti-tax? Really? The GDP suffers due to the heavy load of higher taxes and regulation.

The real story is that things like NASA, NIH, Roads/Bridges, border enforcement aren't important to dear leader, so the budget for those entities suffers.

Now make the case that NASA has suffered due to the anti-tax movement. I'm listening.

1. Why do you include NASA and then excluded it? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA Is it a habit to throw in the odd lie against the other party?
2. The great thing about demonizing the other party's president is how it isn't your party's fault when they do the same or worse, since it's just a race to the bottom.
3. Politicians benefit from #1 and #2 while the people suffer.
4. Thanks for maintaing the status quo.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 7 months ago | (#46442265)

NASA is your pet funding project. Everybody has their own. Republicans like lots of military-industrial pork, Democrats tend to favor health and education.
Tax at the current level of 15% GDP puts us at less than half that of other developed countries which spend much more on health and education and as a result have much healthier and productive workers. US health is about #37 in the world (just behind Slovenia).
Taxes are not a burden on growth if you spend them on health and education plus a social safety net. In fact, they stimulate growth.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442339)

Comparing national tax rates is misleading - Federal + State taxes should be used in comparisons because many responsibilities (education for one) that are primarily funded at the state level in the US are federally funded in other countries.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

wealthychef (584778) | about 7 months ago | (#46442055)

Those graphs look pretty inconclusive to me. Certainly not as much of an emergency as our corrupt government is.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Kohath (38547) | about 7 months ago | (#46442203)

A 5% budget cut is "the destruction of the greatest source of innovation the U.S. -- and the world -- has ever seen"?

Just for some perspective on Federal government spending, "General Science, Space, and Technology" spending is up 12% (after inflation adjustment) from 2002-2012 and "Health" spending is up 41% during the same period. "Energy" spending is up 2400%.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/... [whitehouse.gov] -- see table 3.2

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (5, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | about 7 months ago | (#46442493)

You and I must be reading different journals.

Perspective: Asia's Ascent — Global Trends in Biomedical R&D Expenditures
January 2, 2014
N Engl J Med 2014; 370:3-6
Owing to cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the NIH budget for fiscal year 2013 was reduced by $1.7 billion, to $29.2 billion — a 5.5% reduction that continued a trend of declining federal funding for biomedical research that began in 2003.2
Our analysis reveals that U.S. inflation-adjusted R&D expenditures and the U.S. share of global expenditures decreased from 2007 through 2012. The decline is remarkable because the United States has provided a majority of the funding for biomedical R&D globally for the past two decades — a share that some previous analyses suggested was as high as 70 to 80%.2 Moreover, the decline was driven almost entirely by reduced investment by industry, not the public sector, between 2007 and 2012. Sequestration of NIH funding in 2013 and beyond will exacerbate this reduction by causing U.S. public-sector expenditures to decline.
Although our data set has its limitations, our findings reveal a decline in U.S. financial competitiveness in biomedical R&D and may have implications for the debate over appropriate federal policy in this area. The lack of a coordinated national biomedical R&D strategy is disappointing, at a time when mature economies such as those of Japan and Europe have maintained their level of investment in this area.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/ar... [jamanetwork.com]
Funding of US biomedical research, 2003-2008.
JAMA. 2010 Jan 13;303(2):137-43. doi: 10.1001/jama.2009.1987.
Funding of US biomedical research, 2003-2008.
CONCLUSION: After a decade of doubling, the rate of increase in biomedical research funding slowed from 2003 to 2007, and after adjustment for inflation, the absolute level of funding from the National Institutes of Health and industry appears to have decreased by 2% in 2008.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46442587)

and "Health" spending is up 41% during the same period. "Energy" spending is up 2400%.

Of course health spending is up. When you spend tens to hundreds of millions of dollars on one website that doesn't work, what do you expect?

(Not to mention that it does not conform to the government's own privacy laws, etc. I am still waiting for that one to blow up.)

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 7 months ago | (#46442217)

Get ready for the visionaries who tell us that the source of American innovation is guys working in garages, and all we have to do is lower taxes on garages to unleash the flow of productivity.

Once it was "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage"
Now I can see a time when our chickens are on pot, and we'll be living in garages...
(it does make for a more trippy class of omelets...)

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442369)

No, we have to lower taxes even further on the rich and big corporations so they can continue to support those garage-based innovations! Seriously, why would you want to give out tax cuts that could potentially go to poor people?

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442645)

These would be the same poor people who already pay no Federal income tax, correct?

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

superwiz (655733) | about 7 months ago | (#46442415)

Are you high? US Federal government had the highest tax receipts in history AND the highest deficit in history. Regardless of whether you believe this to be a problem, the cut backs were definitely not the result of some imaginary across-the-board cut backs that you have dreamed up.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442813)

In raw numbers? Perhaps, but we have to consider things like inflation and percentage of GDP.

Tax receipts during say WW2 were much higher, and so was spending.

And deficits? Try Reagan for some skyrocketing deficits.

Re:Welcome to a third-rate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442437)

" the greatest source of innovation the U.S. -- and the world -- has ever seen"

World War II?

Good (-1, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | about 7 months ago | (#46441993)

I want fewer incompetent researchers churning out bullshit papers, and more practicing doctors instead.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442069)

I want fewer incompetent researchers churning out bullshit papers, and more practicing doctors instead.

And where do you think practicing doctors get their knowledge? That's assuming they keep up with current research, of course.

The thing that makes me cringe is when I hear from physicians, "well, in my experience..." On occasion, they happen to be right and other times, well ....

Physicians are human and are subject to the same bias and irrational thinking as the rest of us. Nothing can replace a well designed study where the results can be reproduced.

And the nice thing about the NIH, they fund studies that have no commercial value (at least in the short term) that add to our knowledge.

Some "stupid" study may reveal something that can be used later or spur someone with an idea of their own.

This mentality of focusing on short term ROI has destroyed our innovation in the US. The last really innovative thing that came out of this country was the Internet and the roots for that were laid down in the 70s.

It's really sad.

Re:Good (0)

nomadic (141991) | about 7 months ago | (#46442243)

"Physicians are human and are subject to the same bias and irrational thinking as the rest of us. Nothing can replace a well designed study where the results can be reproduced."

Yep. Most physicians also suffer from the serious flaw that they are terrified of appearing not to know something. When was the last time you heard a physician say "these symptoms are unusual in this combination; let me do a little research and get back to you"?

Re:Good (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 7 months ago | (#46442391)

You've been talking to the wrong doctors.

I've run into a lot of doctors who would admit that they didn't know something.

I've also run into a few doctors who admitted that they were wrong. As Carl Sagan said, it doesn't happen often but it does happen.

Of course a lot of them were research-oriented, like the guys who get NIH grants.

You ought to get better doctors.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46443177)

On the other hand, nothing as innovative as the Internet has come out of any country since the '70s. So I'm not sure that this is the best evidence for the decline of innovation in the US.

Sample of one proof (1)

mha (1305) | about 7 months ago | (#46443529)

Nice sample of one proof you've got there, AC.

Re:Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442085)

Most NIH funded investigators are Ph.D.s not M.D.s. Those are two different kinds of doctors.

Re:Good (1)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about 7 months ago | (#46442911)

Actually like 30% of the grants they fund include an MD-PhD principal investigator or collaborator.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46443325)

Actually like 30% of the grants they fund include an MD-PhD principal investigator or collaborator

So, just like the OP stated.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442199)

I want fewer incompetent researchers churning out bullshit papers, and more practicing doctors instead.

There's lots of research that needs doing that doesn't require extraordinary talent - just lots and lots of work (and funding to pay for that work). For example, depending on how,you count, there are somewhere on the order of 20,000 human proteins but many of these proteins have not been studied in detail - or even manually curated/annotated.

But while we could argue about whether there are enough science jobs, I would agree that there are far more science PhDs than available jobs - while there are obviously too few medical doctors to provide an adequate level of health care. On the PhD side, an obvious solution it to switch over to relying on career scientists for routine lab work as opposed to graduate students. That way, you don't have a situation where the typical principle investigator churns out 5-10 PhDs over the course of the PI's career - leading to an imbalance of roughly 5-10 science PhD for every available principle investigator position. And on the MD side, an obvious solution is to simple increase the quota of medical school admissions.

What's interesting, though, is that the cost of (full) genome sequencing has now fallen to a bit above $1,000 (with certain minimum order requirements). Analyzing a genome is a lot of work and, while the development of some good software (analysis pipelines) will undoubtedly help, genome analysis is almost certainly going to require more time than the typical MD has available. But this is a task that's well suited to PhDs (e.g. in bioinformatics and related fields) - and there's lots of such PhDs bouncing around from one low paying job to another while hoping to eventually land that elusive principle investigator position.

At the moment, the MDs are trying hard to keep the PhDs out of medicine - on the grounds that a PhD who has, for example, spent years teaching community college would be unable to explain clinical genetics to the typical patient - but that the MD, who has at most five minutes per patient, can somehow convey a full understanding of clinical genetics in that mere five minutes. As more and more people have their genome's sequenced, it remains to be seen whether the MDs can be successful in maintaining their monopoly hold on medical care.

Re:Good (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 7 months ago | (#46442411)

I want fewer incompetent researchers churning out bullshit papers, and more practicing doctors instead.

Where do you think these practicing doctors get the drugs they use to treat people?

Most of the drugs they use to treat AIDS and cancer come from NIH research (although usually the pharmaceutical companies managed to squeeze in and get a patent for them).

Re: Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442571)

Of that 29 billion or so we spend per year on nih research, how much do you think has any chance in hades of producing a medicine. Don't get me wrong, I'm for lots of research, but we now know a lot about our top maladies and so a lot of basic research that once got a pass from the nih will now go begging because it is of dubious utility (and down right un novel). I have spent my career chasing phantoms (other people's ideas) and I know that we all oversell the possible medical value.

Re:Good (1)

the gnat (153162) | about 7 months ago | (#46444907)

Most of the drugs they use to treat AIDS and cancer come from NIH research (although usually the pharmaceutical companies managed to squeeze in and get a patent for them).

I don't know the breakdown per-disease, but FYI, only about a quarter of all drugs were invented with public funding. In most cases academic research greatly informed the development of new drugs (as intended), but there's a huge gap between "this mutation causes bowel cancer, maybe if we inhibit that protein it will stop progression" to "this drug stops bowel cancer". (Huge gap = many years, at least hundreds of millions of dollars.) In the case of AIDS, academic research has been focused on vaccines, whereas the current best-in-class anti-HIV drugs really have been mostly the work of the drug companies.

Re:Good (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 7 months ago | (#46449225)

Most of the drugs they use to treat AIDS and cancer come from NIH research (although usually the pharmaceutical companies managed to squeeze in and get a patent for them).

The one I was thinking about was AZT https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Government-funded researchers developed AZT, tied it up in a package, and handed it to Burroughs-Welcome. Burroughs-Welcome did have some expertise in retroviruses, but they weren't indispensable.

FYI, only about a quarter of all drugs were invented with public funding.

I'd like to know where you get that figure. And I'd like to drill down to see how much of that is new classes of drugs vs. me-too drugs that just stick on a methyl group somewhere.

In most cases academic research greatly informed the development of new drugs (as intended), but there's a huge gap between "this mutation causes bowel cancer, maybe if we inhibit that protein it will stop progression" to "this drug stops bowel cancer". (Huge gap = many years, at least hundreds of millions of dollars.)

There's a problem with the term "invented." Most drugs are the result of a long chain of efforts from basic research to drugstore. The drug companies contribute to parts of that, usually in the later stages of human research and industrial production.

But government agencies are quite capable of doing the human research. The VA for example has often done the best studies of drugs used in cardiology and other conditions that are common among their patient population.

And many of the drug companies now contract out their actual drug production to factories in China and India. The FDA does inspection and quality control.

Alexander Flemming discovered, or invented, penicillin in a university lab. He refused to patent it, because he wanted to give it to the world. During WWII, the British gave all their penicillin research to the U.S. government, who gave it to Pfizer, who worked out the commercial development. Pfizer, in contrast, patented everything they did and kept it to themselves.

In the case of AIDS, academic research has been focused on vaccines, whereas the current best-in-class anti-HIV drugs really have been mostly the work of the drug companies.

I'd have to look that up, but AZT was developed as I described. I'll give the drug companies credit where it's deserved, but they have always been supporters of NIH funding.

Whenever the Wall Street Journal had an editorial demanding that the government shut down NIH funding and unleash the creativity of the free market in its place, even the right-wing conservative corporate executives in the pharmaceutical industry came to the NIH's defense.

Could it be cause of the open-access mandate? (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | about 7 months ago | (#46442025)

We all know how the 'bad' researchers game the system by hyperciting to up their impact numbers, maybe they know they can't pull that shit w/ open-access & have moved on to the private sector? IDK, just pure speculation from someone outside the field...

Re:Could it be cause of the open-access mandate? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442125)

Actually, current approval rates for grants are around 10-15% and often grants that are funded are typically facing budget reductions at the time of approval, without any change in the scope or specific aims of the proposal. In many cases the cost of research is increasing but the funds available are not increasing at the same rate, thus few projects are being funded.

Re:Could it be cause of the open-access mandate? (4, Informative)

docmordin (2654319) | about 7 months ago | (#46442149)

As an actual researcher, let me state that your post has little to no bearing on reality. That is, open-access journals do not prevent an individual or group of individuals from artificially inflating various publication metrics. Moreover, agencies look at much more than those metrics, e.g., research output, research impact, past publication venues, and the number of students who are supported and are expected to graduate under a grant, when deciding how to dole out funding.

NIH staffing level (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442039)

NIH employs roughly 19,000 people. Given the 5% cut in budget and projects, can we expect a 5% reduction in staff? Not holding my breath on that one.

ÂNational Institutes of Health? (-1, Flamebait)

mexsudo (2905137) | about 7 months ago | (#46442051)

theÂNational Institutes of Health is an arm of big pharma, get a clue kids

Re:ÂNational Institutes of Health? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442091)

> theÃNational Institutes of Health is an arm of big pharma, get a clue kids

You're flying kidding me right? Do you know what NIH is? What kind of dealing they have with big pharmas? They have strict rules [nih.gov] on big pharmas involvement. If you don't have proof, don't spout nonsense, you asshole!

Re:ÂNational Institutes of Health? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442187)

You see, in America 2014, "Big Pharma" is the excuse of the weak minded who look to the government for guidance. These small brained fucks want to blame everything on Big [private industry] and the "Free Market." The reality is that the free market doesn't really exist and the Big [private industry] is led around by their dick that is being tugged by Big Government. Odd that we have richer and richer politicians as these same small minded fucks keep cawing on about "The 1%" but can't seem to understand that they're voting for the 1%. Logic skills are lacking in the minds of the average American voters anymore.
 
The only thing refined in American culture is the food.

Re:ÂNational Institutes of Health? (3)

nomadic (141991) | about 7 months ago | (#46442253)

I personally know many NIH-funded researchers who work on things big pharma doesn't care about. Like malaria vectors.

Wrong Title Language (5, Insightful)

PastTense (150947) | about 7 months ago | (#46442081)

"Dropped Out" implies it was the decision of the researchers to quit.

Instead it was the decision of the NIH to quit funding them.

Re:Wrong Title Language (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 7 months ago | (#46443159)

You word you post as though it's the fault of the NIH. I isn't. The NIH don't have the budget to fund all the good research proposals they get. After they've thrown out the chaff applications, they have a bunch of excellent stuff remaining and not enough money to fund it all.

NIH hoisted on their own... (-1, Troll)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 7 months ago | (#46442103)

idea. they said they could do better. they didn't.

Statistics (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 7 months ago | (#46442167)

New data show that after remaining more or less steady for a decade ...

Did they even look at the graph? It shows a steady decline from 2004 and 2008. The current level had not reached the 2008 level yet.

Give It Ten Years (-1, Troll)

rotorbudd (1242864) | about 7 months ago | (#46442245)

And the federal budget will be nothing but entitlement spending and interest payments on debt if we keep on the path Congress has us on now.

Re:Give It Ten Years (2, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about 7 months ago | (#46442383)

"Entitlements" are things that people are entitled to.

If I spend 40 years working and putting a big chunk of my income into Social Security and Medicare because the deal was that I'll get it when I'm 65, I think I'm entitled to get it when I'm 65.

Re:Give It Ten Years (2)

superwiz (655733) | about 7 months ago | (#46442455)

Only if the money you spent was saved. If it was spent on other things (like paying entitlements of other people), then you weren't paying for your retirement. You were paying for retirements of other people. And in that case, and I am sorry to say this because it is very harsh, but any "entitlements" you receive is charity. Because if it wasn't saved (and it wasn't), then it's funded by other people. And just because your house got robbed, you don't get a carte blanche to rob your neighbor's house.

Re:Give It Ten Years (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 7 months ago | (#46442535)

Have you ever heard of something called `insurance'? You should look it up, it's pretty nifty.

Re:Give It Ten Years (1)

colfer (619105) | about 7 months ago | (#46442561)

Where is this magical place you think the Social Security Administration should have been saving your contributions? In the stock market? Cubes of cash? Mutual funds? Maybe something safer? Treasury bonds? Well, that's what they did.

Re:Give It Ten Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46443249)

Where is this magical place you think the Social Security Administration should have been saving your contributions? In the stock market? Cubes of cash? Mutual funds? Maybe something safer? Treasury bonds? Well, that's what they did.

Treasury bonds aren't safe, primarily because of the huge amount of them that were sold to "borrow" all of the Social Security funds, plus a bunch more money, that could then be misspent on other things. Social Security is left holding a bunch of debt that will not be repaid, and we're told that means it will be solvent forever. That's not how it works if you want your currency to exist longer than Zimbabwe's did.

Re:Give It Ten Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442731)

You don't know how banks work, do you?

They're not just holding your money in a big vault.

It's actually being loaned out to others, in exchange for those others paying the bank back.

Some of them won't, but that's why you only get so much interest.

Re:Give It Ten Years (2)

Solandri (704621) | about 7 months ago | (#46443369)

That would be nice if that were the way SS and Medicare actually worked. What really happens is the money you paid during your 40 years of working went to pay people who were retired while you were working (people who were retired when the SS program first started got a free ride). And in the future you'll be receiving money from the people who are working while you are retired.

Basically, it's the Asian cultural model where when the parents retire, their kids pay for their living expenses. Except on a national scale. The "entitlements" are not something you are entitled to. It's just an arbitrary allocation of a percentage of the kids' current income (currently 12.4% for SS, 2.9% for Medicare).

There's a token attempt by the accountants to make sure the numbers balance out long-term, but it's subject to things completely out of the accountants' control - like people's lifespans increasing, or couples having fewer babies. At a minimum, the retirement age needs to be scaled to keep pace with average lifespan for the numbers to balance out. But it's been stuck at 65 since the 1940s when life expectancy at birth was about 62, and life expectancy for a 50-year old was about 70. Currently the life expectancy for those ages are 78 and 81 respectively. So we have fewer people paying into SS (couples having fewer babies remember), and the people who qualify for SS collecting 3x as much money (living 3x longer in retirement) as when the program was first started. That's what's killing the budget and SS/Medicare.

Re:Give It Ten Years (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 7 months ago | (#46444889)

The Social Security tax rate is 12.4% up to a maximum of $117,000.

If we were to eliminate the maximum, and charge everyone 12.4% of all their income, that would solve any problem the Social Security system had.

Because of the way income is distributed, people with income over $117,000 in the aggregate earn about as much as everybody else put together. So that's where the money is, and they can easily afford it.

People may be living longer now, but they also have a higher level of disability. For example, I saw in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that 20% of people over 50 years of age have mobility problems such that they can't walk a mile. So they couldn't do a job that required walking.

Over the age of 65, peoples' abilities decline and their handicaps increase significantly. There are people who can continue working, but they're exceptional. For example, I know an actor who made a good living but he had to stop working in his 70s because he kept forgetting his lines.

Most other developed countries have a retirement age of 60-65 (sometimes younger) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Is the American economic system so inefficient that we have to force people to work longer than they do in other developed countries -- even socialist countries?

Re:Give It Ten Years (1)

tsqr (808554) | about 7 months ago | (#46445271)

The Social Security tax rate is 12.4% up to a maximum of $117,000.

If we were to eliminate the maximum, and charge everyone 12.4% of all their income, that would solve any problem the Social Security system had.

Only the employee's contribution (6.2% of wages) is capped. The employer contributes 6.2% of wages, with no maximum. But you didn't say "12.4% of wages, you said 12.4% of all income, which would include income from other sources (e.g., interest and investment). Is that what you meant? I don't have a problem with removing the cap on wages, even though it would cost me thousands of dollars every year. But I do have a problem with the idea of a payroll tax on income derived from investing money on which I've already paid the tax.

Entitlements (1)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 7 months ago | (#46445175)

True on Social Security, but Medicare has been highly undercapitalized since its inception, due to medical cost inflation and recipients' expectations which outstripped all projections when Medicare tax rates were set. Thus your Medicare taxes (and everyone else's) are very unlikely to pay (even accounting for hypothetical investment gains) for your Medicare expenses in old age. The Medicare system is unsustainable as is; the oldsters who got it already got a great deal but sooner or later that will have to change.

About Time (-1, Troll)

The Cat (19816) | about 7 months ago | (#46442313)

The federal government has no constitutional authority to establish or fund a National Institute of Health.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442737)

The various branches of the military are often quite interested in the basic sciences performed with NIH funding.
If one honestly felt that the NIH was unconstitutional, one could just make it a branch of the DOD.
Your comment is insightful only by having demonstrated that your sense of scope is limited purely by the letterhead that things are written on.

Re:About Time (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 7 months ago | (#46442969)

I take the Constitution seriously when it says "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" in the Bill of Rights.

You, on the other hand, seem to take great satisfaction from flippantly ignoring it.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46446415)

What you are trying to say is that anyone who disagrees with you is less of a patriot.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46445453)

Actually, Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 provides for this alongside defence spending. "The Congress shall have Power To . . . provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; . . ." As spending that doesn't improve the welfare of a specific state or individual, but rather improves the welfare of the whole, NIH spending qualifies as constitutionally appropriate spending just as defense spending does. In contrast to entitlements (which provide for the specific welfare of individuals and therefore not "general") spending of this type has typically not been constitutionally controversial (though it may be politically so).

Austerity (1)

meglon (1001833) | about 7 months ago | (#46442527)

Austerity driven stupidity intentionally trying to destabilize this country. It's too bad we can't be strict constitutionalists and call up the militia to put down the insurrection or the far right fanatics, anti-science, anti-education, anti-Christian right. It really is simple: stupidity doesn't lead to innovation.

Re:Austerity (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 7 months ago | (#46443309)

Austerity driven stupidity intentionally trying to destabilize this country. It's too bad we can't be strict constitutionalists and call up the militia to put down the insurrection or the far right fanatics, anti-science, anti-education, anti-Christian right. It really is simple: stupidity doesn't lead to innovation.

Take a good look at the graph in TFA. The biggest increase in investigators was during Clinton's second term (peak of the tech bubble) and Bush's first term (onset of recession). i.e. Bush increased science spending despite the country dropping into recession. A look at historical budgets [aaas.org] bears this out. The biggest increase in federal funding for non-defense R&D happened during Bush's two terms.

Obama tried to continue that upward trend during his first term, but reality has set in and he's been scaling it back. We are still above the funding levels when he took office though.

Re:Austerity (1)

mvdwege (243851) | about 7 months ago | (#46443491)

Obama tried to continue that upward trend during his first term, but reality has set in

Stop lying. It was an intransigent Republican Congress that set in.

Simple, easy, well-known solutions (1)

MonsterMasher (518641) | about 7 months ago | (#46442591)

There are very simple solutions to this, and that involves not giving the bulk of research money to the same big bloated labs. To do this you must 'stir-up' the allocation business (it is!) to direct younger smaller researches get more the the pie.
No, simple - well known by those in the system - solutions... they just don't follow the same beat as the psycho leaders, is all.
We wouldn't want well established people to be challenged by new sharp people - keep them begging at the door, as we do now in all fields.
Time to wake up.

One Billion Dollars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46442593)

So they removed a thousand employees getting a $100,000 each to find new ways to drug so-called untermenschen while calling it a cure — sounds good to me.

Being one of these 500 to 1000 scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46443917)

Being one of these 500 to 1000 scientists I can only say to young people: Don't pursue any science career anymore - it is probably not gonna feed you.

Up to 1000 (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 7 months ago | (#46446193)

Is that some number between 0 and 1000, or could it also be negative?

Pretty damn bad (1)

whitroth (9367) | about 7 months ago | (#46446703)

Let's start with the NIH main campus, in Bethesda, MD, where somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 people work every day. That include maintenance, cafeteria and hospital staff. If between 500 and 1000 left, that's 2.5%-5% reduction.

Then consider the fact that it's probably the largest pure medical research institution in the world. Note that I said "pure research" - we're not talking about billions used to find a drug that's equivalent to, or only marginally better than an existing drug... because your patent on that one's about to run out.

And I suppose most of you are twentysomethings who never get sick, and will live forever (aka willfully ignorant children).

And the US, biggest economy in the world (for the moment) can't keep the budget up, since we have to have 15% or lower taxes on the people whose annual income is larger than most countries, because, heaven forfend, they might have to scrimpt and save, and maybe would be unable to buy that next Hawaiian island....

This sucks.

                      mark

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