basic research wackaloonery
May 28, 2013
Here’s the thing. Yes, it is true that health advances are built on a firm foundation of basic research. So the National Institutes of Health are going to require a lot of basic research get done to fulfill their fundamental mission of improving public health.
When we talk about ‘translational’ research, the fundamental concept under the tritely dismissible buzzwording is solid reality. We need to go from basic science, basic discovery to applications with human patients. And that takes a lot of people, a lot of time, a lot of investment and a LOT of blind alleys. We know this.
But you can get different people with different attitudes working on “basic” research. And as far as I am concerned there is no problem having a bias against the ones who proudly and arrogantly proclaim that they would never dirty their high-falutin’ “basic research” interests with anything so pedestrian as a potential application.
I’d rather award the grants to those basic scientists who have some recognition that they are being paid by the taxpayers to solve health problems, not to entertain themselves with faked up model organism systems that will never translate. Or to engage in sub-sub-sub-field arguments about how many proteins fit on the head of a nanobot pin. Or to be so interested in the “get”, i.e. a Nature, Cell or Science paper accepted, that they will fail to publish all sorts of data that they have generated on the public dime.