SHOW AUDIO: kpft_2014-02-12_2200, HOW BADLY ARE BUDGET CUTS DAMAGING OUR RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE
Welcome to Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig (@ThinkwingRadio), a listener call-in show (every Wednesday night from 10-11PM CT) on KPFT-FM 90.1 (Houston). My engineer and discussion partner is Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies).
For the purposes of this show, I operate on two mottoes:
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts;
- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig is usually a call-in show. Whether you’re listening live on the radio or on the internet from anywhere in the world, you can call in at 713-526-5738. (Long distance charges may apply.)
TOPIC: Science and technology are the lifeblood of America’s industry, prosperity and security in a competitive and dangerous world. After the Second World War, the globe’s technological and scientific elite swarmed to the United States; a development which made much of the world resentful. It was called “The Brain Drain”, and our nation reaped enormous rewards from it for the past 70+ years. The lure was of course political, intellectual and economic freedom, but along with that was opportunity to work in factories and laboratories undamaged by war, and to explore, create and invent using the financial resources — public and private — of the world’s richest and most advanced nation.
We are still that nation … but for how much longer? With public and private research funding of basic and even advanced biological research at its lowest level (in adjusted dollars) since at least 2004, more and more post-doctoral Ph.D.s and even Principal Investigators (the men and women who run research labs full of trained staff, and post-docs who are being trained and mentored to be the next generation), will that next generation be prepared to stand on the shoulders upon the shoulders of their predecessors to reach the heights placed within their grasp? Or are we strangling our scientific golden goose? Is the damage done by short-changing our research centers and scientists reversible in the near term, or are we doomed to damage our human and material science assets so badly that it will take a generation or more to return to where were just 10-15 years ago?
For now, the brain drain is beginning to drift the other way. It should not surprise us if one day the Brain Drain begins to go the other way. Given that many of our best scientists and technicians come from overseas, should it shock us that when their long-sought investigative progress is suddenly being financially squeezed to the point where even established and promising lines of work are being forced to scale back, shut down — even be terminated — not because they lack scientific value or potential, but to save money, that they might move to other countries where they can get support for their work? This nation has the resources. What is required is the will and the wisdom to secure resources from those who can not only most afford it, but from those who have the most to gain from it.
GUEST: Dr. Howard H. Garrison is the Deputy Executive Director for Policy of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and Director of the Office of Public Affairs. With a team of scientists, legislative affairs and communication staff, he works with the elected leadership of the Federation and its 26 member societies to develop and promote policies to advance biomedical research. Since joining FASEB in 1993, he has restructured its legislative and federal relations program, created a nationally respected policy development program, and made FASEB a leading source of information on issues related to biomedical research.
Under his direction, FASEB has successfully advocated for increased funding for research at the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies. As the widely acknowledged voice of individual investigators in the biomedical and biological sciences, FASEB’s efforts in the science policy arena have helped to improve compensation and training conditions for graduate students and post-docs, protect animal research and the scientists who undertake it, and shape a broad range of regulations and legislation that affect researchers in the U.S. and abroad.
As a respected analyst of research funding issues and a recognized expert on the policymaking process, Dr. Garrison frequently serves as an advisor to the broader research advocacy community. He is a member of the steering committee for the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, and his modeling of the NIH budget frequently serves as the starting point for the annual request to Congress made by several coalitions and hundreds of individual organizations.
NOTE: This post is subject to update before and after the show.
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