Medical research needs organization and funding
Since the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) budget doubled from 1998 to 2003, funding has fallen 4 percent behind the biomedical inflation rate. In order to again stimulate this field, either a sub-agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or a committee connected to House Appropriations should be established consisting of physicians, scientists and medical research personnel.
This group could then decide what projects should receive funding so decisions are based on science and ethics rather than politics. Furthermore, the Defense Department should take on greater responsibility for funding civilian medical research. This is partly because of the lack of money at the NIH’s disposal for extramural research resulting from a collapsing grant system.
Due to inflation, the NIH’s gains in funds have eroded; consequently, it will take generations to rebuild the system so even 20 percent of proposals get grants. It is therefore imperative that the NIH reaches a budget of $40 billion as soon as possible to award these grants.
This is partly because of the sense of duplicity over a relatively large amount of the research between the two departments. The Defense Department already conducts research projects at facilities, such as the Naval Medical Research Center, that both military and civilian populations use. Recent research of this nature includes vaccinations, Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Therefore, in order to ensure the best quality of life through medical advances, both HHS through the NIH and the Defense Department should fund medical research as dictated by a scientific committee, while the NIH reforms its grant process to promote extramural research by grant recipients, such as universities and private laboratories.