Weekly Advocacy News Roundup
February 15, 2016 | Wall Street Journal
NIH can see the light at the end of a decade-long financial tunnel—a $2 billion boost to its current budget, delivered by Congress in December. Francis Collins, Director of NIH, calls it “the most encouraging budget outcome in 12 years.” For 2017, the Obama administration is asking for a total $33.1 billion in funding for NIH, up from $32.3 billion this year.
- Watch a webinar about how federal funding affects your science at SfN.org
February 15, 2016 | NPR
Biomedical researchers working with animals are now required to use male and female animals for studies funded by NIH. Historically, clinical studies focused largely on men, so animal researchers followed suit, but as clinical research has moved toward more balanced populations, and animal studies should, too, says Janine Clayton, director of NIH's Office of Research on Women's Health. The policy is designed to ensure researchers capture differences in how male and female subjects respond to treatments.
- See resources for supporting scientists and institutions engaged in animal research at SfN.org.
February 17, 2016 | Chemistry World
White House Science Advisor John Holdren and the leaders of three key U.S. science agencies have warned that the nation must up its commitment to science and innovation at the AAAS annual meeting in Washington, D.C.. Holdren expressed disappointment that the Obama administration has fallen short of the president’s goal to increase spending on research and development to more than 3 percent of gross domestic product.
- Learn about the public funding of neuroscience at SfN.org.
Articles of Interest
February 16, 2016 | EurekAlert
The mechanism used by NIH to allocate government research funds to scientists whose grants receive its top scores works essentially no better than distributing those dollars at random, new meta-analysis suggests. The findings suggest that the expensive and time-consuming peer-review process is not necessarily funding the best science, and that awarding grants by lottery could actually result in equally good, if not better, results. Read the article in the open access online journal eLife.
- Join the advocacy network to stay informed and take action on issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org.
February 17, 2016 | MIT News
Autism has diverse genetic causes, most of which are still unknown. About 1 percent of people with autism are missing a gene called Shank3, which is critical for brain development. Without this gene, individuals develop typical autism symptoms including repetitive behavior and avoidance of social interactions. In a study of mice, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reverse some of those behavioral symptoms by turning the gene back on later in life, allowing the brain to properly rewire itself.
- Learn more about autism on BrainFacts.org.
February 12, 2016 | Science Magazine
This week’s announcement that researchers working at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves might never have occurred without an earlier, nonscientific development. More than a quarter-century ago, physicists asked NSF to spend nearly $300 million on an instrument to measure the gravitational waves that researchers had predicted would result from a cataclysmic event in deep space, like the merger of two black holes. That was no easy sell, but the project backing and next decade the agency provided millions of dollars in research grants to advance the concept even if results were not seen for over a decade.
- Read about neuroscience funding from NSF at SfN.org
February 15, 2016 | Scientific American
For several years now the popular media has run headlines about “a war on science.” Reporters note that federal funding for research is down, campaigns to undermine climate science attract hundreds of millions of dollars and politicians routinely reject findings that are uniformly accepted by scientists. But a panel of scholars last weekend argued for the most part against calling these aversive movements a war, with two historians even scolding scientists who embrace the idea as out of touch with public concerns.
- View science funding advocacy tools at SfN.org.
February 17, 2016 | Huffington Post
The 2016 federal budget approved in December was the product of tough political wrangling but provided significant increases in government spending on scientific research. The budget for NIH was increased by $2 billion, to $32 billion for the upcoming year, but when adjusted for inflation, the 2016 budget is actually 15 percent smaller than it was in 2006 ($28.6 billion). The need for increased government funding for research is clear. Yet we must also consider how existing funding can be spent more effectively.
- Learn about the congressional committees relevant to neuroscience funding at SfN.org.