Tag: Funding

20
Nov

A grand experiment in science funding

Among all the young scientists I know, I think Ethan Perlstein is one of the most innovative in the way he has adapted to the internet era. His website is incredibly unique among academic websites, he is all over the social media and his latest experiment in crowd-funding his research is something I'm definitely keeping an eye on.

The basic idea is that he has identified a project (giving meth to yeast mouse brains -see the comment by Ethan below-, I think) and put it up on Rockethub, which is a crowd funding platform. The basic idea is he is looking for people to donate to his lab to fund the project. I would love it if this project succeeded, so if you have a few extra dollars lying around I'm sure he'd really appreciate it if you'd donate.

At the bigger picture level, I love the idea of crowd-funding for science in principal. But it isn't clear that it is going to work in practice. Ethan has been tearing it up with this project, even ending up in the Economist, but he has still had trouble getting to his goal for funding. In the grand scheme of things he is asking for a relatively small amount given how much he will do, so it isn't clear to me that this is a viable option for most scientists.

The other key problem, as a statistician, is that many of the projects I work on will not be as easily understandable/cool as giving meth to yeast. So, for example, I'm not sure I'd be able to generate the kind of support I'd need for my group to work on statistical analysis of RNA-seq data or batch effect removal methods.

Still, I love the idea, and it would be great if there were alternative sources of revenue for the incredibly important work that scientists like Ethan and others are doing.

23
Mar

This graph shows that President Obama's proposed budget treats the NIH even worse than G.W. Bush - Sign the petition to increase NIH funding!

The NIH provides financial support for a large percentage of biological and medical research in the United States. This funding supports a large number of US jobs, creates new knowledge, and improves healthcare for everyone. So I am signing this petition


NIH funding is essential to our national research enterprise, to our local economies, to the retention and careers of talented and well-educated people, to the survival of our medical educational system, to our rapidly fading worldwide dominance in biomedical research, to job creation and preservation, to national economic viability, and to our national academic infrastructure.


The current administration is proposing a flat $30.7 billion FY 2013 NIH budget. The graph below (left) shows how small the NIH budget is in comparison to the Defense and Medicare budgets in absolute terms. The difference between the administration’s proposal and the petition’s proposal ($33 billion) are barely noticeable. 

The graph on the right shows how in 2003 growth in the NIH budget fell dramatically while medicare and military spending kept growing. However, despite the decrease in rate, the NIH budget did continue to increase under Bush. If we follow Bush’s post 2003 rate (dashed line), the 2013 budget will be about what the petition asks for: $33 billion.  


If you agree that the relatively modest increase in the NIH budget is worth the incredibly valuable biological, medical, and economic benefits this funding will provide, please consider signing the petition before April 15