Francis D. Moore '35, Cutler Professor of Surgery, and Seymour S. Kety, professor of Psychiatry, went with nine other prominent physicians and scientists to Washington last week to appeal to Congress for increased funding for basic research.
The group--which also included Nobel Laureates James D. Watson, George Palade, and Arthur Kornberg--spoke to the Senate and House appropriations sub-committees.
Moore said yesterday the group hoped to "give the other side of the research funding story--the side of basic research as opposed to very disease oriented research."
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shifted its grants in the last ten years away from fundamental life-sciences toward "little diseases" such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes, he said.
Watson echoed Moore's complaint yesterday. "The way we spend our money has drifted from finding the facts to trying to apply the facts," Watson said.
Dr. Mahlon Hoagland, director of the Institute of Medicine at Worcester, Massachusetts and organizer of the effort, outlined the group's main requests yesterday.
"We want $100 million more for the National Institute of General Medical Science this year, and also a substantial increase in the NIH budget to create a sufficient increase in project grants," Hoagland said.
The appropriations sub-committee can reverse the trend away from fundamental research by increasing the allotment for the NIH in the federal budget, or by explicitly stressing basic over applied research in the NIH budget.
Hoagland said the Congressional committees received the group enthusiastically.
The action is unprecedented, Moore and Hoagland said.
"Scientists had never come before Congress for a general concern," because lobbying activities by the scientific community had been restricted to specific projects, Hoagland said.
The group, in addition to its formal testimony, met with individual congressmen to present its side of what Moore termed "the tug of war between applied science and basic science.