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U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn 135

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the phd-researcher-deathmatch dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The U.S. biomedical science system 'is on an unsustainable path' and needs major reform, four prominent researchers say. Researchers should 'confront the dangers at hand,' the authors write, and 'rethink' how academic research is funded, staffed, and organized. Among other issues, the team suggests that the system may be producing too many new researchers and forcing them to compete for a stagnating pool of funding."
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U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn

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  • The only issue noted was too many researchers. Well, that's a self-correcting problem, isn't it.
    • No, it means the gov't must fund more research, and further along the research path through clinical trials,etc...

      Then, once the drug is proven, they MUST sell it to the lowest bidder from big pharmacy.

      It's the only way profits can keep going up by double-digits every six months.

      • Some may think we are spending gobloads of money on some "Big" physics with those gigantic particle smashers, but all of that pales in comparison to the amount of public money we throw at medical research.

        Damn straight it ain't "sustainable".

        • Re:Another thing (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @04:23AM (#46754719) Journal

          The Western world decided to shift from a growth system, where women bear and raise children and the able bodied population slowly increases, to a system where the women enter the work force and children are few in number. If you measure it in years, they did this quite a long time ago. If you measure it in generations, it's only been a couple.

          This had the consequence of dramatically reducing the number of "dependents" and increasing the percentage of people doing "productive work" as an economist would measure it. But, that only lasts till the generation that started the ball rolling retire and become dependents themselves. Then the spiral to oblivion starts, and you can't reverse it without death and destruction.

          The women in the work force are no longer "bonus productivity", now they're essential resources to care for the dependent elderly. You can't even acknowledge and the situation and correct it at this point, unless you want to leave your senior citizens to die of neglect. But the longer it continues, the worse it gets, until eventually the people are so few in number that economies of scale break down and we regress to the lifestyle of primitives.

          You don't need to have a PhD in Mathematics to understand this. Just a willingness to accept that everything you've been raised to believe was wrong.

          Everything is in decline. It's going to continue this way for the rest of our lives. People will continue to refuse to accept the truth of what I've just said, and they'll point at a million different symptoms and call them causes, and we will go into further and further into decline until it collapses. Only at that point will there be people ready to start over.

          I had a brief period in my youth where I worked as a life insurance agent, and got to see the proprietary data that makes up their actuary tables of life and death. I saw all this coming, spent my whole life trying to oppose it because I care too much about people to just ignore it, but all I ever got was sophistry, anger and people telling me how intolerant and stupid I was. But everything I saw has come to pass, and this is just another part of it.

          Sometimes being a visionary means begging your foolish fellows to stop dancing and get the fuck off the train tracks, and getting run down by the train because you don't have the heart to let go.

          I pity the younger generation. At least I got to spend the first half of my life in the shiny happy part. You young guys are in for a rough life. You get to try to measure up to a time of abundance that you will never experience for yourselves, and fail. That it will make it all the more painful, I expect.

          • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @05:25AM (#46754931)

            Everything is in decline.

            This is what I love about Slashdot. I can click on one article, and read about how we are doomed because robots will take all our jobs, and there will be no one to buy all the abundance of surplus goods and services. Then I can pop over here and read about how we are doomed because there is not enough workers to produce what we need. At least everyone agrees that we are doomed.

            • Then we have the people who don't get that concern over nuclear war prevented nuclear war and concern over ozone depletion pushed laws to reduce ozone depletion. We have an overabundance of people NOT listening to the sirens because they don't trust the smoke alarm.

              The problem is if there is NO MONEY going to research -- there won't be enough people trained in the science because selfishly, they want to eat and raise families while doing their job.

              Companies are perfectly happy to make billions a year pimpin

          • by jythie (914043)
            There is one huge mathematical flaw with this argument, people are still having children at a higher rate then replacement. Not that it is the only flaw, your understanding of history, economics, or even the current world is pretty warped.

            Hate to break it to you, but you are stupid and intolerant, which is why people have been saying that to you. Not that you are going to listen.
            • Re:Another thing (Score:5, Informative)

              by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @05:46AM (#46755019) Journal

              There is one huge mathematical flaw with this argument, people are still having children at a higher rate then replacement. Not that it is the only flaw, your understanding of history, economics, or even the current world is pretty warped.

              Hate to break it to you, but you are stupid and intolerant, which is why people have been saying that to you. Not that you are going to listen.

              That's true, but again, you're looking on too short a time scale and missing the pattern. We're having children at a rate that exceeds that necessary to replace members of the "Great" generation, that came before the boomers. They're still around, and the Boomers are beginning to retire.

              From the study I posted above by Dr. Jost Lottes:

              Worker-to-beneficiary ratio in the US:
                16 workers to 1 beneficiary in 1950
                3.3 workers per beneficiary in 2003
                2.1 workers per beneficiary in 2033 (projected)

              You do understand that this is real, right? This is all based on hard data and real world facts; I'm not making this shit up as I go along.

              • Re:Another thing (Score:4, Insightful)

                by climb_no_fear (572210) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @06:48AM (#46755299)
                Let me ask you this: Do you believe Social Security is going to collapse tomorrow? My guess is even you would say not tomorrow.

                Why do I ask? Well, look at your own statistics:

                Worker-to-beneficiary ratio in the US: 16 workers to 1 beneficiary in 1950 3.3 workers per beneficiary in 2003 2.1 workers per beneficiary in 2033 (projected)

                You do understand that this is real, right? This is all based on hard data and real world facts; I'm not making this shit up as I go along.

                16 / 3.3 = 4.8 fold decrease in worker:retiree ratio in the US.

                And yet, the system hasn't crashed yet.

                3.3 / 2.1 is only a further 1.57 fold decrease, much smaller than the last few years

                Why hasn't the system collapsed years ago?

                1. An increase in general productivity (see http://www.epi.org/publication... [epi.org] for an interesting article in this regard)
                2. Don't forget, these people do die and some leave behind considerable inheritances, which are taxed exorbitantly, even in the US.

                Of course, some of this is paid for by US borrowing, which will have to taper off.

                • No, I believe it will take another decade to reach the point of collapse.

                  Sixteen people can carry a coffin with such ease that half of them can sit around and chat while half of them take a shift.

                  Four people can carry a coffin, but they cannot do it in shifts, or forward motion stops.

                  Three people can carry a coffin, but they will suffer greatly for the effort. Those things are heavy.

                  Two people cannot carry a coffin. They do not have the strength necessary.

                  Like you say, it's only a 1.5 fold decrease from 3

              • by jythie (914043)
                Oh the projections are real, or real enough, but the conclusions you are reaching are not supported by them.

                Long term it will probably stabilize out to 1:1, and that will also likely be fine. Thing is, retirees on SS are not a drain on society, they are economic lubricant. They have a similar effect on the economy as the banking and investment system, or at minimal the entertainment industry.

                If we want to go down the 'but other people are working!' route, also keep in mind that the vast majority of 'wor
          • Re:Another thing (Score:5, Interesting)

            by jma05 (897351) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @05:53AM (#46755039)

            > The Western world decided to shift from a growth system, where women bear and raise children and the able bodied population slowly increases, to a system where the women enter the work force and children are few in number.

            I will try to give a greater context than what a reading of actuary tables might give a young insurance agent. The roots of the current condition are far deeper than any single social revolution of any generation.

            Yes, women entering the work force had an effect of natural decline in population growth. They were a sort of reserve capacity. Yes, this eventually will have a depressing effect on the economy. We still have some more reserve capacity, namely, expanding the work years of the population in reasonable ways by creating new opportunities for the elderly to be productive and remain engaged in society and be dependent for fewer years. After exhausting that last bit of reserve, we will perhaps truly stagnate.

            However, relying on population growth is no longer sustainable. The human population has not slowly increased in the last few centuries, it had *exploded*. UK, for instance, increased its population by 2x in 1500 years (0-1500) and 20x in the 500 years after. While I am not suggesting that it should implode, it must go into a decline for centuries to come if we expect to thrive on this planet, long term. The environmental pressure and resource drainage initiated by your generation, and continued by ours, is spectacular. The difference between the environmental footprint of poor rural nations and the most prosperous nations today is 100-150x.

            The western (and especially US) experience of abundance since WWII is also anomalous. It relied on the huge productivity differentials from the rest of the world. Now the world is slowly equalizing as the other populations also tap into their reserve capacities. So once again, to expect beyond the prosperity of your generation, baring another fundamental technology revolution, is not reasonable.

            We will stagnate. But in context of what humanity went through, through our history (wars, disease, famine, ignorance), current "stagnation", which may last for centuries, is not that horrible, just mildly annoying. So we won't have even larger houses, trinkets and whatever that we don't really need. Is it really that natural or sustainable for everyone to want vacations on the other side of the planet? We still will lead relatively secure, healthy & engaged lives and that's enough.

            The world was stagnant for much of its history. The growth spurt, the adolescence of mankind, from the industrial revolution onward, will have to slow at some point. The economists are simply wrong to target growth to the exclusion or detriment of everything else (in human growth terms - its wishing for Gigantism or taking steroids: ultimately the piper needs to be paid). It is OK for humans to settle down at this standard of living. We can think of growth once again, after it is viable to leave this planet. Now, more than ever, it is important for humanity to understand satisfaction.

            • by swillden (191260)

              10 billion. Hans Rosling makes a compelling case [youtube.com] from the numbers that the world population will peak at 10 billion, then slowly decline, because we've already passed "peak child" the year in which the largest number of children were born, that number is now gradually declining. Population will continue to increase for a while because the older cohorts are currently much smaller than the younger cohorts, so as the younger cohorts age into the older categories, we'll have a "filling out" of the age distribut

              • by timeOday (582209)

                I do think the west, especially the US, is likely headed for a period of slower growth than we're accustomed to, or perhaps worse, stagnation or decline. This is because globalization (which many think is a dirty word, but I think is fantastic) is spreading the wealth over more of the human race.

                This may seem to contradict the other current trend of concentration of capital, but historically they've gone hand in hand.

                Not just historically, but currently. Inequality within nations is increasing, but ine [economist.com]

                • by swillden (191260)

                  I do think the west, especially the US, is likely headed for a period of slower growth than we're accustomed to, or perhaps worse, stagnation or decline. This is because globalization (which many think is a dirty word, but I think is fantastic) is spreading the wealth over more of the human race.

                  This may seem to contradict the other current trend of concentration of capital, but historically they've gone hand in hand.

                  Not just historically, but currently. Inequality within nations is increasing, but inequality between nations is shrinking [economist.com]:

                  Indeed. Sorry I was a little unclear; I mixed two things together there. One is the global equalization, which is going to cause some pain in the wealthy world. Another is the concentration of wealth within nations, particularly (but not only) the wealthy nations. The latter is something that has happened during each technological revolution and the resulting creation of new industries. The captains and leaders of those new industries get insanely wealthy, then over time competitive market forces push margi

            • Easily said, but if my next door neighbor buys a 20' boat, I'm going to have to go out the following Saturday and get a 24' boat. That's human nature in the simplest terms possible.

              • by Jmc23 (2353706)

                Easily said, but if my next door neighbor buys a 20' boat, I'm going to have to go out the following Saturday and get a 24' boat. That's US culture in the simplest terms possible.

                FTFY.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by njnnja (2833511)

            Real actuary speaking here. Societies generally put resources into producing things that the society wants. They put more resources into things that they want more of *relative to other things that they don't want as badly*. It is that relative allocation that is important. If we didn't want to live longer lives, we would spend our resources on present day consumption rather than on medical services. The fact that the cost of health care keeps going up and up is merely a reflection of the fact that (in the

            • Thanks for that perspective njnnja. I would mod up if I had points. Unfortunately, from reading comments on slashdot, it appears that many people don't quite get that putting money into biomedical research is a way of increasing human health or moving toward that "pill that keeps our bodies younger longer."
          • Well, or it is just barely possible that the continuing improvement in our understanding of the Universe, the astronomical marginal improvements in per capita productivity, our geometrically exploding increase in computational capacity and storage, will continue to more than compensate for all of your imagined sources of doom and in twenty or thirty years the present -- arguably the best time in human history to be alive -- will be looked back on as a rather sad time when we hadn't quite eliminated war, whe

          • So, you're saying we don't need more PhDs in Mathematics, like the article says we don't need more biomedical researchers, we should all retrain to do elder care and innovate improvements in Depends and Shuffleboard?

          • Growth isn't really the problem, nor could it possibly be a long-term solution.

            The decrease in workers vs. retirees since 1950 has been much larger than can be accounted for by the reduced growth. 1% growth means, basically, that there are twice as many people being born as there were 70 years ago, and that can't account for the 16:1 ratio you list for 1950 (below). There has to be other reasons, and I'd suggest the increase in average lifespan. Life expectancy for somebody born in 1930 was about 60 y

          • The future is very difficult to predict. Quite a few people place faith in the notion that science and technology will offer a bail out for our pressing issues. At this point I doubt that will be true. What we do have is an over abundance of available labor but no means to pay for all that labor. That is going to continue and get much worse. Immigration, women working, working two jobs due to a bad economy and finally displacement of workers by technology is ganging up on us big time. Wha
          • The Western world decided to shift from a growth system, where women bear and raise children and the able bodied population slowly increases, to a system where the women enter the work force and children are few in number. If you measure it in years, they did this quite a long time ago. If you measure it in generations, it's only been a couple.

            This had the consequence of .......snip....

            More accurate than most /. stuff.
            With the move of women into the workforce we have seen
            a growing reliance on two incomes to sustain a life style.
            This has fueled the housing bubble and has removed the ability
            of a second job as a possible safety net.

            Two income cash flow is twice as likely to encounter a lay off
            or other market driven contraction causing the family planning
            to fall in the stinker.

            Women I know work for status, child care, home cleaning services
            and in the end get nothing but guilt and disconnected

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Yeah, but a retarded citizen on the street, could note most of the other problems. Maybe not too, Ive been modded down for years for pointing up the obvious flaws, not only in the Medical field, but several other fields. It all boils down to money, power and control. It is NOT about finding a cure, an answer, facts or the truth.
      It is skewed, enhanced, withheld, hidden, ransomed and outright lied. We are told of all the wonderful progress of science, yet we are not much better off than the turn of the last c

    • The only issue noted was too many researchers. Well, that's a self-correcting problem, isn't it.

      Clearly we need more researcher cage matches. It would be awesome... "Slasher Jones was just about to get funded when Bubba Nesmith took him out with a rare mutation of the ebola virus. Nesmith gets funding AND a publication!"

  • No shit, Sherlock (Score:5, Insightful)

    by muecksteiner (102093) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @02:35AM (#46754317)

    It sure took you some time to notice the bloody obvious, folks. The only odd thing about this is why you only mention biomedical research.

    Because pretty much all other fields have exactly the same problem: fairly massive over-production of graduates - in particular, people with a PhD. In times of shrinking university enrolments, and shrinking populations (in the West, that is). No one will ever need that many faculty. And for most jobs outside uni, that time spent in PhD comics land is not a good preparation. At all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "No one will ever need that many faculty." - I disagree with that to some degree. No one needs that many instructors at university, sure, but university faculty really only does teaching on the side. Their main role is as researchers. The only limitation is the money spent on research, the thing that has the biggest return on investment for humanity.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        university faculty really only does teaching on the side. Their main role is as researchers.

        You'd like to think that wouldn't you [insidehighered.com]?

        The best available data, from 2003 (taken from the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty), show that full-time faculty members work 53.4 hours in a week. About 62 percent of that was teaching, including course preparation and advising, with 18 percent devoted to research and 20 percent to percent administrative and other tasks.

        So "teaching on the side" seems to take up about three times as much time as research does.

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      As Ike mentioned in his speech widely remembered for the line 'military-industrial complex':

      This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all invo

      • Perhaps it is not just the scientists, but the university administrators and those (legislators, for state schools) who hold the purse strings, who believe that the only credible source of research funding must be the federal government. Then they look at the humanities faculty and ask, "Why aren't you paying for your own research with federal grants? It must not be of benefit to anyone."

      • by the gnat (153162)

        The pernicious influence of this 'Federal technical complex' has led to an entire generation of scientists who believe that the only credible source of funding must be the federal government.

        Actually, none of us really believe that. In fact, most of us would love to have more options than crawling back to the NIH every five years, and would also prefer not to worry about whether the hacks in DC will fuck everything up for us. The problem is that the governments really are the largest source of funding an

    • You do not take a PHD because you prepare for a job. You take it because youa re passionate for the subject and might hope to continue the subject. if you think a PhD is to prepare for an job, or even education in general at high level, you got it wrong. Anyway i disagree about not being a good preparation either : the autonomy and the effort needed to do a PhD "over prepare" for practically any job except a few % out there.
    • It sure took you some time to notice the bloody obvious, folks

      What? No it didn't. The article pointed out that the problem was noticed, and commented on, including some of the authors, for the past few decades.

      No one will ever need that many faculty. And for most jobs outside uni, that time spent in PhD comics land is not a good preparation. At all.

      That's only part of the problem. The article pointed out that a lot of the problem was actually after PhD, the postdoc phase. Postdocs are paid peanuts becuase it's only supposed to be a temporary situation. The result is that permanent staff scientist jobs that one can live on long term don't really exist.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Agreed. We should toss all biomedical researchers into a massive lab along with a couple deadly strains of something. The ones who learn to make something that protects them wins and get to stay in the field. The rest... well, there's no reason to worry about them anymore. If too many researchers pass the first test, something more deadly is used until we cut the number down far enough.

  • by PiMuNu (865592) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @02:44AM (#46754353)

    Interestingly, the same things can be said about High Energy Physics - in the last half century, physicists have figured out the standard model of particle physics. Meanwhile, the cost of pushing back the energy frontier (cf LHC) is at the level where it funding is required from a large portion of the Western world to make a major discovery. Research is driven by grad students and post docs, most of whom can never get a permanent position, while funding is diminishing in real terms.

    For me, the current academic system needs updating from the 19th century. It is bad for science not to make the change, because we see the good staff leaving to find a proper job.

    • by stenvar (2789879)

      The current system is nothing like research in the 19th century. In the 19th century, a lot of science was funded privately, either because people were independently wealthy, or because they had day jobs like teaching. Full time researchers, public research labs, etc. are mainly a development of the 20th century, and not necessarily a good one. Where is the problem with people leaving science to pursue other jobs? And why should science funding not be primarily based on voluntary contributions and private f

    • An interesting article on why people would work for less than minimum wage (grad students working 16 hr days), in hopes of hitting the big time, just like people selling drugs, hopjng to become the drug lord:

      http://alexandreafonso.wordpre... [wordpress.com]
    • The article really drives that point home: the taxpayers invest in PhD scientists and postdocs, for the students to then leave the field means the taxpayer investment has been wasted.
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @03:38AM (#46754567)

    Government funding is like this... Rather then getting a feedback loop where research generates profits which pay for expansions which lead to more jobs. What you instead have is a static grant being offered by the government. When that is consumed there is no more and the government not making any money on the process can't afford to engage in a feedback system.

    Now, a private system is going to have its own issues but those issues will not be an over production of researchers competing for finite grant money.

    And before anyone tells me this is a bad idea or that we need the government to do all this stuff... understand where I am coming from here. We had tens of thousands of engineers working for the military industrial complex and then the cold war ended... result? Many of them were out of a job. And guess where many of them lived? California. It was and still is a big defense contractor state. And what did those engineers do? Most of them found jobs in the private sector and to a large extent their technical contribution made the tech explosion in California happen. Suddenly business had access to a glut of engineers. And that is what we got out of it.

    So... consider that we might do well to push a lot of these bio medical researchers at the private sector... It might do them well, it might do their fields well, and it might do the nation well.

    And hey, the US Federal government might actually see a monetary return through their tax recipes. So... everyone wins.

    • their technical contribution made the tech explosion in California happen.

      What you said sounded very exciting right up to that point. :-)

    • Being in the field, I would like to add that transition to private industry might be more difficult for biomedical researchers as compared to engineers. Private employers are mainly pharma, some agriculture. Most employment trajectories leave research and even the biomedical field entirely. That being said, the standards for getting a PhD seem rather low nowadays (Europe/US) such that a tightening of standards could potentially lead to a virtuous circle (less researchers, better quality -> better researc
      • I'd rather push you off into private practice that create some uber elite priesthood that subsists entirely on government grants.

    • You bring up an interesting example. But, you should consider that there is a fundamental difference between engineering and research. The article was written by highly successful researchers with experience with policy making. I agree with their perspective. From the article,

      "Competition in pursuit of experimental objectives has always been a part of the scientific enterprise, and it can have positive effects. However, hypercompetition for the resources and positions that are required to conduct science

      • In regards to hyper competition versus competition... these are not valid economic terms that can be applied to the market place.

        What you have instead is an over supply of a good or service fighting over a finite market for those goods and services.

        The end result is that those less able to compete will be squeezed out of the business entirely.

        This is already happening and will not be stopped.

        You can lament that but you'd as well lament the rising of the sun in the east or the tides going out in the morning.

    • I disagree. One of the points of the article was that grants were too safe. Government grants are necessary to pay for research that is high-risk but high reward. If I want to do a multi-million dollar study that maybe has a 98% chance of leading nowhere but has a 2% chance of curing cancer, that's a probably a terrible risk for private sector, but should be funded by the government. Instead, with so much competition, grant comittees are playing it safe and boring. That type of research can be funded b
      • I didn't say stop government funded research.

        Why is it that when ever you say something might be excessive or that we might need to look at other options... people automatically assume you want to utterly destroy everything before in a giant scorched earth demolition derby?

        I didn't say that.

        Suggesting I did is merely an admission on your part that you didn't understand my post.

        • Okay, I think you need to take your own advice, I didn't think you were suggesting abolishing government funding. I'm suggesting that we keep the same amount of state funded research, but put it into higher risk grants and let the private sector take over more sure projects, which will get the benefits you're hoping for.
    • by the gnat (153162)

      consider that we might do well to push a lot of these bio medical researchers at the private sector

      Many of us would love to move to the private sector. There's just aren't a lot of jobs there either. In my current specialty, there are hundreds of postdoctoral fellowships (and maybe a dozen faculty openings) for every industry position. I have much broader expertise than that, but employers typically aren't interested in anyone who doesn't fit the exact list of criteria that HR prepared. I've basically s

      • I feel your pain buddy. You're not alone and trust me even if you did go the corporate route that can happen. HR is full of myopic robots.

        My best advice is to lie to get in the door just so you can talk to the guy that will be hiring you. Worst case you'll not get the job. But you'll have gotten an interview.

        I lie to HR constantly. Its for their own good... they're idiots.

    • by OneAhead (1495535)
      Perhaps you should educate yourself in the differences between fundamental and applied research. Fundamental research is by definition not immediately monetizable. A famous (though maybe not the best) example is the laser; at the time its principles were realized, it was regarded an academic curiosity. Decades later came a sudden boom in laser applications, and nowadays, we could hardly imagine life without them. And yes, the same thing goes for biomedical research. A curious publicly funded discovery today
    • The ending of exponential growth of academia around 1970: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~dg... [caltech.edu]
      "Actually, during the period since 1970, the expansion of American science has not stopped altogether. Federal funding of scientific research, in inflation-corrected dollars, doubled during that period, and by no coincidence at all, the number of academic researchers has also doubled. Such a controlled rate of growth (controlled only by the available funding, to be sure) is not, however, consistent with the lifestyle

    • We had tens of thousands of engineers working for the military industrial complex and then the cold war ended... result? Many of them were out of a job. And guess where many of them lived? California. It was and still is a big defense contractor state. And what did those engineers do? Most of them found jobs in the private sector and to a large extent their technical contribution made the tech explosion in California happen. Suddenly business had access to a glut of engineers.

      Not only that, they also had access to all kinds of expertise that was developed using these precious federal dollars. Network communications, microprocessors, software architectures ...
      How many of those talented engineers would've matured to that level if not for the cold war investments? You can certainly argue that government oversight of all this talent was misplaced, but you can't deny that it provided the essential opportunity for that talent to develop.

      • You're missing the point... the boom happened when they were released.

        I am not suggesting we stop investing in biomedical research... I am saying that we need to shunt more of these people into the private sector.

  • by TheCarp (96830)

    Why does it matter? Is the global pool of money stagnating? Who cares if it is here in the US? So what? So people in other countries will take the lead. Its not really a big deal....we are all human; this my team your team BS is getting old.

    • by OneAhead (1495535)
      The problem for the US is that wages are relatively high, which leads to a lot of manufacturing being done in southeast Asia. One of the things that are keeping the US (barely) competitive on the international scene is new technologies that are often spun off publicly funded research. A a nation, the money invested in fundamental research is recovered many times over in economic growth. You're effectively saying: "we don't need that sector of our economy - let other countries have it".
  • What's happening in many States is researchers are moving to private sector. In Minnesota at any given time there are over 400 biomed start-ups in operation. Many started in the University system but moved out for various reasons. Mostly that the academic sector moves at a glacial pace in terms of commercialization. It's not that there isn't as much money in totality, it's that a large component has moved to Venture Capital instead of grants.

  • Most of the authors' analysis rings true, but Dr. Harold Varmus, in particular, contributed enormously to the perverse incentives he now complains about when, as NIH Director, he mandated "modular grants", in which scientists simply request grant support in multiples of $25,000 without the traditional detailed budget and without any salary data. Indeed, scientists were (and still are) expressly forbidden from including in their application any information on exactly how they proposed to spend the requested
  • I mean, let's be real: the US right wants lower taxes, and to spend it on as little as possible (except for defense).

    The NIH, arguably the largest, and possibly best medical research organization in the world, has had their funding either stagnant or cut (remember the Sequester - it's still there). They then allege that corporate and academic research will take its place, and do better.

    Riiight.

    Where do the academics get theif funding? Surprise, a lot comes from the NIH.

    Corporations, doing basic research, th

  • Seriously, the more that I see of today's profs the less impressed I am. Have you noticed how many announcements are made about various new items that never make it to market, or even to change the R*D? In some cases, it is all predicated on lies. The profs that the universities are hiring are HORRIBLE, and getting worse. Bad R*D and bad teaching.

    The American universities are falling apart, in no small part, because of the quality of ppl being hired.

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