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October 6, 2014


I was stimulated by the October 2 New York Times op ed titled Young, Brilliant and Underfunded to write the following letter to the editor:

The provocative words of Congressman Andy Harris reflects both his experience as an NIH funded investigator and his frustration with the future of the high quality discovery research by our current, and the next, generation of scientists coming of age in the US. Yet, his imperative to emphasize support for younger investigators need not undermine support for senior scientists and their younger colleagues' mentors. Indeed, these very "seniors" provide incredible support and scientific leadership for aspiring investigators. I agree that more funds need to be set aside to encourage the next generation. However, losing this group will block the US out of the field for a generation. But the answer is to reconsider the stranglehold on NIH funding that is a hinder to health research now, and will have a negative impact for decades. Now is the time to increase the budget for NIH supported research.

But the overall message is critical - we need to find ways to improve funding and academic independence of younger investigators and do so more quickly then we currently have funds to do so. Also, we need to improve the research climate for all of our younger investigators.