Bush Republicans Attempt to Destroy Integrity of Scientific Research Funding Process

America's biomedical research institutions are the envy of the world. American research universities, funded by grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health, are responsible for the greatest advances in health research the world has seen. This process is supposed to be shielded from political influence, funded entirely on scientific merit and potential to advance the nation's health.

The Bush Republicans are trying to change this. They believe that scientific research should not be funded if it may argue for increased funding for health interventions for ethnic minorities, gays, transgendered people, injection drug users, sex workers, and others the conservatives find distasteful. The House of Representatives narrowly failed in an attempt to defund several grants that had already been awarded, and word from Washington yesterday was that over 100 grants are now being threatened by the Senate. The American Psychological Association is among the organizations sounding the alarm.

To get one of these grants is a very difficult process. Most grant applications are rejected, and a successful grant can take 3 years or more of faculty time. Failure to get funding can be the end of an academic's career. The Republicans are trying to intimidate researchers, who, fearing for their careers, will instead focus on studying bioterrorism defense and other politically preferred research. If this succeeds, watch next for industry lobbyists and Republicans to try to defund research into health effects of industrial toxins and other environmental pollution. Already, of course, the Bush administration has blocked stem cell research.

Contact your Senators and demand that Congress stop its efforts to defund individual NIH grants for political reasons.