View Full Version : decisions being made NOW re: science funding

Wynne Lee
10-24-1995, 07:51 PM
Dear colleagues:

I'd urge you to read the following about decisions being made NOW re:
funding of science in the US. Please consider if you might want to add
your own input (support, I hope -- but that's up to you) to the discussion.
This was sent to me, as a member of the Society of Neuroscience.

Keep in mind that its not only "official scientists" who benefit from what
scientists do. Everyone who directly or indirectly uses information
derived from science benefits daily from products (e.g., computers, hybrid
vegies and fruits at the grocery store), services (e.g., medical, computer,
internet) or even entertainment (just think of cable channels with popular
"Nature" programs, or movies like Apollo 13!). Remember, too, all those
who have jobs related to science -- from students to secretaries to
equipment manufacturers to sales reps to publishers to administrators!

Thanks, Wynne A. Lee, Northwestern University

************************************************** ********

>TO: Rapid Response Network (RRN)

>FROM:Society for Neuroscience
>Dr. Carla J. Shatz, President

>RE: Immediate Action
>Science Editorial
>Weekly Informational Summary from the "Washington Fax"

>DATE:October 23, 1995


>As you may know, H.R. 2127, the FY 1996 Labor-Health and Human
>Services-Education (L-HHS) appropriations bill, has been delayed in the
>Senate. Because the Senate has not yet passed the appropriations bill, the
>National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently being funded under a
>continuing resolution. This funding is 95% of the FY 1995 level and below
>the FY 1996 level proposed in the House-passed and Senate-committee bills.

>It now seems that the L-HHS appropriations question will be resolved by
>negotiations between the House and Senate leadership and the President.
>The fate of the NIH will be made in the next two to three weeks. Because
>of this, we ask that you take time to contact President Clinton, Senate
>Majority Leader Dole, and House Speaker Gingrich and reiterate the
>importance of funding at NIH.

>Attached is a draft letter which we would like you to personalize without
>altering the factual base. The Society and I would be grateful if you
>would take the time to do this. You will find attached a list of

>As always, please send copies of all correspondence to the Society's
>Central Office, attention Kelli Mills. Thank you very much for your help
>in this vital matter.





>I am writing on behalf of the over 24,000 brain scientists who are members
>of the Society for Neuroscience. It is the scientists in our Society who
>are charged with carrying out Congress' mandate to implement The Decade of
>the Brain, the Joint Resolution of the House of Representatives and the
>Senate. The Decade of the Brain recognizes that brain related diseases,
>such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and other terribly devastating
>disorders, cause more disability in this country and worldwide than any
>other single group of diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

>With the delay of the FY 1996 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill - HR
>2127 in the Senate, we would like for you to take the time to consider the
>remarkable and unparalleled progress we as scientists have made over the
>past five years in this, the midpoint of the Decade of the Brain. With
>this in mind, we urge you in the strongest term to support the $11.9
>billion that the House appropriated for the NIH budget.

>Considering that nearly one out of five Americans suffers from an
>incurable brain disorder, totaling $400 billion annually, it is important
>that we receive your support in our endeavors of research. Without your
>help in this matter, we will not be able to make the progresses you have
>already encountered in this, the Decade of the Brain.

>Thank you for your support.

>Very sincerely yours,


>* To Representative Newt Gingrich:

>The Honorable Newt Gingrich
>United States House of Representatives
>Washington DC 20515

>Dear Congressman Gingrich:

>*Fax 202/225-4656

>* To Senator Majority Leader Dole:

>The Honorable Robert Dole
>Majority Leader
>United States Senate
>Washington DC 20510

>Dear Senator Dole:

>*Fax 202/224-8952

>* To President Clinton:

>The President
>The White House
>Washington DC 20500

>Dear President Clinton:

>II.EDITORIAL [SCIENCE - Vol. 269 - 15 September 1995 - p. 1495]

>Reprinted with permission from Science

>>From Rhetoric to Reality

>Many, many Americans share the view of a man in a focus group held
>recently in Columbus, Ohio, who said, "I believe in supporting research
>because I believe in the possibilities." What an endorsement for the
>scientific enterprise! Surveys show that scientists are among the most
>respected professionals in the United States, that science-based
>institutions are highly regarded, and that citizens strongly support
>publicly funded research.

>To make an up-to-date evaluation of these last assertions,
>Research!America commissioned Louis Harris and Associates to conduct a
>survey of the U.S. public during June 1995. Out of 1004 adults surveyed,
>with a margin of error estimated at 3.1%, the survey found that (i) 94% of
>respondents believed that it is important for the United States to
>maintain its role as a world leader in medical research; (ii) 65% opposed
>cuts in federal support for universities and hospitals, and those under
>the age of 30 opposed such measures by nearly 75%; (iii) 73% would pay
>more taxes to support medical research, which duplicates the results when
>the same question was asked in a 1993 Harris poll; (iv) 61% wanted their
>senators and congresspeople to support legislation that would give tax
>credits to private industries to conduct more medical research; and (v)
>69% agreed with the statement, "Even if it brings no immediate benefits,
>basic science research which advances the frontiers of knowledge is
>necessary and should be supported by the Federal Government."

>Despite these indications of the public's priorities, the congressional
>budget axe may soon be wielded with seeming disregard for years of public
>investment in research. Because members of Congress very rarely hear from
>their constituents about the value of investing in scientific research,
>there is a sense that threatened cuts are inevitable. Why hasn't the
>public spoken out? It is hard for scientists to feel optimistic about
>delivering on the promise of scientific opportunity to a public whose
>support often seems more rhetorical than real.

>Conveying to the public a sense of reality about the future of scientific
>research is the crux of the matter. Very few nonscientists are aware that
>science is at risk. Fewer still realize that their tax dollars support
>science and that they therefore have a personal investment at stake. The
>challenge of activating positive but currently passive public support is
>every scientist's responsibility. Virtually every scientist is supported
>by public dollars, whether the source of those dollars is taxes, consumer
>spending, philanthropy, venture capital, or a combination thereof. Yet
>scientists feel awkward engaging in conversation with members of the
>public from the point of view of an employee reporting to the boss. This
>is ironic, because regardless of the nature of the public
>forum--one-on-one conversation, Rotary Club presentation, Internet
>bulletin board, or elementary school classroom--it is both appropriate and
>easy for scientists to convey a responsive attitude to the public.

>If scientists approached public discussion with an "I work for you"
>attitude, it would go a long way toward bridging the gap between
>scientists and nonscientists, without having to wait several generations
>for improved science education to have a positive impact on the citizenry.
>Public opinion polls and focus groups reveal that members of the
>non-scientifically trained public would welcome the opportunity to meet
>scientists in settings where dialogue could take place and scientists
>could answer questions and offer their resources (most often brainpower)
>to help meet needs identified by citizen groups.

>As initially awkward as it may be to give the culture of science a more
>populist orientation, it will be more difficult and take much longer to
>change the culture of the nonscientific community to accept "hands-off"
>support of research. Demonstrating accessibility as well as accountability
>to the public that pays their way and values their work is the easiest and
>quickest way for scientists to achieve a higher rank for science in the
>nation's priorities. When scientists convey accessibility, accountability,
>and pride in working in the public's interest, the public will be more
>likely to actively take up their cause, insisting to elected
>representatives that support for science be allocated not on the basis of
>cost-of-living increases or to accommodate across-the-board cuts, but on
>the basis of scientific opportunity, so that all citizens will benefit
>from a stronger economy and improved health and well-being just as rapidly
>as is scientifically feasible.

>Mary Woolley

>Mary Woolley is the president of Research!America in Alexandria, VA, a
>national nonprofit alliance dedicated to increasing public awareness about
>the value of medical research.

>III. Enclosed is a summary of last week's "Washington Fax"


>October 16

>1) Much like the arguments of the early summer budget debate, the House
>last week discussed a $21.5 billion omnibus science bill sponsored by
>Representative Robert Walker (R-PA). Walker chairs the Science Committee
>and hopes to pass the legislation that would create a seven-bill science
>authorization package combining civilian science R&D funding.

>Walker stated, "We do not have the luxury, and it is not a wise use of
>resources to continue steering taxpayer dollars in the direction of
>applied research which can, and should, be market-driven and conducted by
>the private sector." He contends that the bill would elevate science
>policy to a national interest much like that of defense.

>Opponents of the bill, mainly Democrats, led by Representative George
>Brown (D-CA), former chair of the Science Committee, argue that under the
>Republican deficit reduction plan, civilian R&D funding will decline 33%
>over the next five years. Brown added that because the bill follows the FY
>96 appropriation process, "we will debate this bill and vote on
>amendments, but the debate will be largely symbolic, with little effect on
>the real world."

>October 17

>1) After a two day partisan debate, the House last Thursday approved the
>omnibus science authorization bill mentioned in yesterdays's "Washington
>Fax." Now it is up to the Senate to act upon the bill.

>A Science Committee staffer was skeptical that the bill would be taken up
>this year because, as he explained, the House will have already approved
>funding levels set by individual appropriations bills.

>2) A letter went out to President Clinton and leaders in Congress on
>September 25 from his Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology
>(PCAST). Their letter expressed concern about R&D funding for the future
>and outlined six guiding principles to help deal with colleagues and the
>public when discussing this topic. The outlined principles were:

>1. Science and technology have improved the American quality of life and
>will remain important in the years to come. 2. Support from the public for
>science and technology is an investment for the future.
>3. Math, science and engineering education and training are crucial to the
>future of America.
>4. Universities, research institutions and national laboratories should be
>continuously supported by the federal government.
>5. With federal support to both basic and applied research should come the
>development of precompetitive technologies in the private sector.
>6. To enhance international collaboration, federal investment should be
>effective and efficient to reveal long-range planning.

>October 18

>1) Throughout the world, infectious and parasitic diseases--not including
>AIDS--are currently responsible for about 20 million deaths annually, says
>W. Michael Scheld, professor of internal medicine and neurosurgery at the
>University of Virginia Health Sciences Center.

>With this in mind, a group of experts from research institutions, private
>industry and the government spoke to members of Congress last week about
>the role of the public health infrastructure in America and the
>surveillance over infectious diseases.

>Experts explained that microbes are very capable of antibiotic resistance
>and that science needs to stay one step ahead of infectious agents. Debra
>Williams, senior associate director from Pfizer Inc., explained that only
>new drugs and vaccines could fend off infectious diseases from resistance.
>She went on to state that the government, academia and private industry
>must all play a role in the fight against disease.

>October 19

>1) Yesterday, President Clinton and Vice President Gore honored the six
>recipients of the 1995 National Medal of Science and the 1995 National
>Medal of Technology.

>The National Medal of Technology went to:
--The IBM Team
>-The Proctor and Gamble Company
>-Edward McCraken from Silicon Graphics, Inc. -Sam Williams from Williams
>International Corporation -Alejandro Zaffaroni, ALZA Corporation

>The National Medal of Science and Technology winners were honored
>yesterday at a White House awards ceremony. The President used the time to
>attack Republican deficit reduction plans, stating that the cuts will hurt
>research and development and take away the competitive edge of American
>science and technology.

>While speaking of R&D successes, Clinton went on to praise the private
>sector. He added that "throughout our history we have recognized that
>government working in partnership with the private sector does have a
>critical role to play."

>October 20

>1) To help eliminate unnecessary programs, Republican lawmakers have
>submitted a final dismantling plan for the Department of Commerce. The
>draft bill, which Democrats call extreme, plans to create a new
>independent executive branch agency called the National Institute for
>Science and Technology. The chair of the House Science Committee,
>Representative Robert Walker (R-PA), hopes that the bill will combine
>elements of science while also downsizing the government.

>With the bill, the Department of Commerce would shut down within six
>months and a temporary agency would be set up to continue remaining
>functions for the next three years. The bill has been added to the House
>budget reconciliation bill which is expected to reach the House floor by
>the last week of October.

>The proposed National Institute for Science and Technology would perform
>standards settings and technical research. Walker stated that, "By
>retaining a home for the science research functions at Commerce in one
>place, we are laying the foundation for further restructuring of the
>federal scientific establishment."


Wynne A. Lee, Ph.D.
Programs in Physical Therapy, and
The Institute for Neuroscience
Northwestern University Medical School
645 N. Michigan Avenue (Suite 1100)
Chicago IL 60611-2814
voice: (01) 312-908-6795
fax: (01) 312-908-0741
email: wlee@casbah.acns.nwu.edu