Apparently Rep Issa (R; CA) has been successful in getting his amendment to prevent the NIH from funding three research projects through the House of Reps (or was it just committee?). We’ll have to follow this to see how it goes. The grants are apparently:

(Ed note: RePORTER FAIL! can’t figure out how to direct link projects..I’ll work on it. Update: CRISP to the partial rescue)
Great isn’t it? There you are, fighting to get your project funded, surmounting the usual procedural hurdles in the grant process. Finally, you get the grant funded and can get down to the business for which you are employed- doing good science in the interests of national, nay worldwide, public health. And some politician wants to prevent further funding of your project in the middle of the award period for naked political posturing purposes. Grand.
This is not new. Remember Rep Toomey?

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So one thing you can request of your Senator or Congress person is quite simple. Does your delegate believe in these three principles? Has s/he signed the petition yet?

The Pro-Test Petition
We the undersigned believe:

  1. That animal research has contributed and continues to contribute to major advances in the length and quality of our lives. It remains vital to understanding basic biological processes and for the development of new treatments and therapies such as antibiotics, vaccines, organ transplants, and cancer medicines.
  2. That animal research is morally justifiable provided animal welfare remains a high priority and no valid non-animal alternatives are available.
  3. That violence, intimidation and harassment of scientists and others involved in animal research is neither a legitimate means of protest, nor morally justified.

Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) along with Representatives Bart Gordon (D-Tenn) and Ralph Hall (R-Texas) are seeking input from the National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Engineering on the state of the US research universities. Their letter (pdf) notes:

We are concerned that they are at risk

Good! Glad you’ve noticed. How can we help, my good Critters?

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It’s been a rough patch over the past two or three years for many NIH-funded research programs. This is not news. The NIH budget flatlines, combined with inflation in the cost of doing biomedical research (BRDPI is a well understood acronym by now), resulted in a budget that undoubled the doubling period. The growth in the research infrastructure that was facilitated by the doubling of the NIH budget had to be pared back. Painfully.
In many ways we are starting to partially adjust. PIs have closed or slimmed their shops. Departed all-soft-money jobs for lower profile institutions with hard money. Left for industry. Decreased the size of their labs. The NIH grant pressure has (seemingly) slackened a bit. Whether because of the reduced demand, because NIH ICs finally got their houses in order and smoothed the payout stream or because some of the 5yr commitments from the end of the doubling finally started to subside I don’t know. Things seem ever so slightly better in the past 6-9 mo.
And now, the other shoe is falling. The local Universities are going broke and putting another squeeze on the research scientists.

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The Friends of NIDA ( is a lobbying group which

advocates for a level of resources for NIDA that reflects the tremendous personal, social and economic burden of drug abuse and addiction.

Most of their mission is to lobby Congress for *additional funding for NIDA, for health-care parity (treating drug abuse disorders like any other medical problem) and for various other programs which may bring science-based solutions to bear on drug abuse.
The Friends of NIDA has issued a statement and requested that anyone with any connections to the Obama transition team bring it to their attention. It makes for a really nice summary of the general argument of this lobbying effort so I thought I’d bring it to your attention DearReader.

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I keep meaning to do a substantive post on the issue of mental health parity legislation but US Congressional activity proceeds as it will. So I have little more than a cut and paste job of a plea from the Research Society on Alcoholism to call your Members of Congress to ask them to support “The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.”
In very brief outline the efforts (many years in progress now with gradual improvements) for mental health parity seek to ensure that health conditions that are primarily behavioral and/or affective in nature are accorded the same respect and consideration under law as are any other health conditions.
It should come as no surprise to my readers that there is a considerable segment of the population (including some MDs and politicians and scientists) that at some level believe that certain behavioral and affective disorders are not really health care situations. That these are the province of morality or patient “will” or personality deficit or something considered to be nonmedical. And therefore not deserving of attention or, most importantly, support under health care insurance mechanisms.
This is a very deep and meaty topic from the science to the public policy to the politics to the economics to the… Well, that is why I’ve never stepped up to the plate on this. And I am not doing so today. I’ll just leave you with the following request from one of my academic societies.

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