Hello there bloggies! Welcome to this episode of Science Sunday! This entry is going to be a little short (not feeling great today).
A few days ago I came across an article in the NY Times by Newt Gingrich about the NIH budget. A link the article is here (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/22/opinion/double-the-nih-budget.html?_r=3&assetType=opinion&assetType=opinion). For those unfamiliar with Newt, he was the Republican Speaker of the House in the 1990s and ran for the Republican Presidential nomination back in 2012 (obviously he didn’t win). Regardless of your political affiliations, I think we can all admit that he is a very bright and clever man.
In this article, Newt Gingrich called for a dramatic increase in the NIH budget. In fact, he calls for it to be doubled. I know I had to read the title of the article twice. Newt Gingrich wants to increase federal government funding of research? Is this for real?
It is for real! In fact, he makes a number of very logical arguments to why everyone (democrats, republicans, independents, others) should be supporting this. This upfront government investment in basic and clinical research will dramatically reduce future health care costs, particularly with a rapidly aging population. Mr. Gingrich alludes to using new technologies and knowledge (e.g., genetics and personalized medicine) in preventative care. The NIH funding also lays the foundation of research that the private sector can run with and use to develop new therapeutics and ways to treat disease. Better health care and more jobs for the people are the results and typically far outweigh the original investment by NIH.
There is also a moral, fundamental need to combat disease. We all collectively want to find ways to fight back against cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression, mental illness, Alzheimer’s Disease, among countless others. NIH and federal funds provide a means to the lay a foundation to provide this common good for all of us.
What I found most interesting is that both major political parties support funding scientific research and have done so in the past. Gingrich, leading Congressional Republicans, and the Democratic White House (President Clinton) doubled NIH funding in the 1990s and did so in a bipartisan manner. It would be refreshing (although a bit rare) for our current political leaders to follow their historical lead.
The most entertaining bit of this article was seeing the reaction of scientists. So many of them (particularly the left leaning ones) had statuses or comments like: “I can’t believe I’m saying this but I agree with Newt Gingrich” or “Hell has frozen over. I agree with Newt”. Pure entertainment!
Thank you all for stopping by Science Sunday. Go on over and read Newt Gingrich’s op-ed at the NY Times. What is your reaction? Are you surprised he wants to increase NIH funding? Comment below or on twitter @DrFsThoughts.
See you all later!