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Help Fight The NIH Budget Cuts

Many of my regular readers may know that biomedical research in the United States is largely funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Please see this message from Dr. William Talman, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), about proposed spending cuts to the NIH budget. Grant funding from the NIH is already hard to come by, and the proposed budget cuts will make it even harder.

Whether you are a scientist, a student, or a member of the public interested in the future of science and medicine, I join with Dr. Talman in asking you to call your congressional representatives and ask them to oppose HR1. Also, if you have a blog I’d ask you to repost Dr. Talman’s call to action so that your readers can join in.

Dear Colleague,

For months the new House leadership has been promising to cut billions in federal funding in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Later this week the House will try to make the rhetoric a reality by voting on HR 1, a “continuing resolution” (CR) that would cut NIH funding by $1.6 billion (5.2%) BELOW the current level – reducing the budget for medical research to $29.4 billion!

We must rally everyone – researchers, trainees, lab personnel – in the scientific community to protest these draconian cuts. Please go to this FASEB link for instructions on how to call your Representative’s Washington, DC office today! Urge him/her to oppose the cuts to NIH and vote against HR 1. Once you’ve made the call, let us know how it went by sending a short email to the address provided in the call instructions and forward the alert link to your colleagues. We must explain to our Representatives how cuts to NIH will have a devastating impact on their constituents!


William T. Talman, MD
FASEB President

*This blog post was originally published at The Brain Confounds Everything*

Biotech And Life Sciences Grant Program: Only A Few Crumbs To Go Around?

crumbs Biotech Grant Program: Are a Few Crumbs Better Than No Crumbs At All?After assuming control of the House in the mid-term elections, Republicans vowed to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, the health reform law signed by the “Big O” last March. Thank heavens, therefore, that the Boehners were too busy congratulating themselves to even notice those federal helicopters dumping $1 billion in cash on some needy biotech companies just as the election results were being tallied.

Yep, it happened. Federal disbursements in the form of grants and tax credits were made last week, as required by a provision in the reform law known as the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Program. According to the terms of this program, biotech and life sciences companies with less than 250 employees could apply for federal funds to cover research costs they had incurred in the last two years, so long as the research focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic diseases. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

The “Lies” Of Medical Science: What’s An e-Patient To Do?

There’s an extraordinary new article in The Atlantic entitled “Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science.” It echos an excellent article in our Journal of Participatory Medicine (JoPM) a year ago by Richard W. Smith, 25-year editor of the British Medical Journal, entitled ”In Search Of an Optimal Peer Review System.

JoPM, Oct 21, 2009: “….most of what appears in peer-reviewed journals is scientifically weak.”

The Atlantic, Oct. 16, 2010: “Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong.”

JoPM 2009: “Yet peer review remains sacred, worshiped by scientists and central to the processes of science — awarding grants, publishing, and dishing out prizes.”

The Atlantic 2010: “So why are doctors — to a striking extent — still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?”

Dr. Marcia Angell said something just as damning in December 2008 in the New York Review of Books: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” (Our post on Angell is here.)

What’s an e-patient to do? How are patients supposed to research if, as all three authorities say, much of what they read is scientifically weak? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Can The Expiration Date Of Harvested Organs Be Extended?

Currently, once a donated organ has been harvested it only has a few hours on ice before it “expires.” Lengthening this time period would be an incredible breakthrough that would allow patients in a wider area to potentially receive a transplant and also it would reduce some of the insanity surrounding the time pressures of organ transplantation.

One proposed method of extending an organ’s shelf life is to alter the internal cell biology to allow cells to live longer at lower temperatures. The State University of New Jersey Rutgers-Camden just received a $385,419 grant from the NIH to study an enzyme system, AMP phosphatase, and how it can potentially create cold-tolerant Drosophila. The enzyme was originally identified in ice worms as the key enzyme that allows them to survive in glaciers. The researchers hope that if they are able to utilize this enzyme system to create a cold-tolerant fruit fly, then they would be able to apply that knowledge to donated organs. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

More On The False Claims Of A Cancer Researcher At Duke

This is not good. Not good at all.

Recently Paul Goldberg of The Cancer Letter reported on an investigation into Duke cancer researcher Anil Potti, M.D., and claims made that he was a Rhodes Scholar in Australia. The misrepresentation was made on grant applications to National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The Cancer Letter, a $375 per year go-to newsletter on cancer research, funding, and drug development, has made this issue free at this PDF link.

News & Observer higher education reporter Eric Ferreri has a nice overview of the situation. Potti has been placed on administrative leave by Duke, and the ACS has suspended payments on his grant and initiated their own investigation. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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