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US National Academies Recommend How to Fund Large-Scale Biomedical Research

NEW YORK, June 20 - The Institute of Medicine of the US National Academies has published a new report called "Large-Scale Biomedical Sciences - Exploring Strategies for Future Research."


The report describes how the National Institutes of Health and other US federal agencies should select, fund, launch, and evaluate large collaborative biomedical projects.


The NIH should establish guidelines for supporting both small projects of individual researchers and large-scale projects, the report suggests, and should appoint a panel of external experts to assess such proposed large studies. NIH should further provide funds for disseminating information and research materials resulting from these projects, and develop guidelines that would allow researchers to preserve intellectual property rights. Finally, federal agencies should evaluate ongoing large-scale projects and phase out funding once their goals have been achieved. The report advises against establishing dedicated institutes or centers for large-scale projects in most cases.


Universities should revise their policies on tenure and promotion to provide more incentives for scientists to work on large projects, the report says. Also, academic researchers should collaborate more often with industry, the report recommends, citing the SNP Consortium as an example.


Bruce Stillman, director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, served as vice chair of the committee that wrote the report, which is available for a charge from the National Academies Press.

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