When Congress included NIH in the Recovery and Reinvestment Act and offered money for research, scientists were happy, but also complained that two years of funding wasn't enough time to do significant research, DrugMonkey says. "I thought this was stupid. More money into the research enterprise is a good thing, in my view. It displayed a shocking lack of can-do attitude and imagination on the part of scientists to react the way they did," he adds. Two years would have been plenty of time to employ some people who would otherwise have been unemployed, and buy some new tools and technology. Now the question is, is the research community prepared for the "crash-back-to-bad-budget levels post-ARRA?" DrugMonkey asks. It seems NCI is not, as the institution made a decision in 2009 to use budget dollars from 2011 and 2012 to extend some of the grants originally awarded with stimulus money, according to a memo from Director Harold Varmus. Since the budgets for research haven't gone up since the stimulus, that means there's less money for other projects, DrugMonkey says. And he hears rumors that the National Institute on Aging is planning to do the same thing. "What in the heck were they thinking? We had just come past a similar episode of apparent lack of planning at the peak of the doubling interval when political will to continue substantial annual increases to the NIH budget evaporated," he says. "Why on earth would they turn right around and make the same mistake?"
May 10, 2011