IT’S DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN
The Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) and the over 60,000 biomedical scientists it represents are concerned about a recent, ideologically motivated, and ill-informed attack by the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) on peer-reviewed research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). TVC attacks specific research projects dealing with behaviors contributing to sexually transmitted diseases. Research of this type has helped turn AIDS from a death sentence into a chronic disease, saved many lives in the process, and saved the American taxpayers untold millions of dollars. Committees of expert scientists review every grant application submitted to NIH and only the top 20% of applications is funded. Given the stringent NIH peer-review process, the CLS firmly believes that each grant in question is clearly connected to public health priorities.
Now-retired Congressman David Obey wisely commented during an earlier attack on NIH grants in the House of Representatives as follows: “I have served on the subcommittee that deals with NIH for a long time, and the one thing I came to understand very quickly is that the day that we politicize NIH research, the day we decide which grants are going to be approved on the basis of a 10-minute horseback debate… that is the day we will ruin science research in this country. We have no business making political judgments about those kinds of issues…We have NIH for a reason; we have peer review for a reason. I would rather trust the judgment of ten doctors sitting around a table than I would ten politicians sitting around a table when we decide how to allocate taxpayer money for those grants.”
As Congressman Obey stated, ideological judgments based on a superficial understanding of the content and purpose of these grants is not appropriate.