Field of Science

Biological research funding

This AM on public radio there was a story about the lack of research grant money and what a difficult time biomedical researchers had keeping their research labs going. Now here's the thing, these are biomedical researchers, and they've always had access to more research money than any other part of biology to the point that we like to say the human bio-medical tail wags the biology dog. The hunt for grant money shapes many hiring decisions at research universities.  TPP takes no pleasure in hearing about researchers' grant money woes, but try getting botanical research funded that doesn't include wheat, maize, or soybean in the title. So easy street is drying up for biomedical type research, but it's always been like pulling teeth to get grant money for botanical research. And actually in terms of bang for your buck, giving us small science guys money would result in more students doing more research than when you give it to big money research. For $50,000 TPP could do research for 5 years using most of the money to keep students fed. That much money wouldn't keep the doors of a big biomedical research lab open for 3 months. And small money grants are even harder to find and to get than big money grants. The competition for grants now creates a boom or bust cycle, and generally that's not an efficient use of resources at all. Presently the USA is selling its biological research down the river because it doesn't want to invest in the future. This is part of the anti-science, anti-education attitude that has permeated our government and such politicians don't mind throwing the baby out with the bath water to get rid of the parts of science they don't like. Unless research at universities is protected, science will begin to erode, and already it's obvious that whatever leadership the USA had in its public education system is slipping away. Like many other things, the lack of biomedical research funding is symptomatic of an even bigger problem of continually decreased funding for higher education as a whole. You see, the only way to really teach science is to do science, and that takes time and money.  Fortunately, my research has been cheap and TPP has been able to absorb personally the costs of his research up to a point; students have got to eat, at least a little.

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