Showing posts from April, 2015

Asking for a Small Piece of the Nation’s Pie

By Rosalind Mott, PhD

This article was originally published in the Penn Biomed Postdoctoral Council Newsletter (Spring 2015).
Historically, the NIH has received straightforward bipartisan support; in particular, the doubling of the NIH budget from FY98-03 led to a rapid growth in university based research. Unfortunately, ever since 2003, inflation has been slowly eating away at the doubling effort (Figure 1). There seems little hope for recovery other than the brief restoration in 2009 by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Making matters worse, Congress now has an abysmal record of moving policy through as bipartisan fighting dominates the Hill.
Currently, support directed to the NIH is a mere 0.79% of federal discretionary spending. The bulk of this funding goes directly to extramural research, providing salaries for over 300,000 scientists across 2500 universities.  As the majority of biomedical researchers rely on government funding, it behooves these unique constitue…

Dr. Sarah Cavanaugh discusses biomedical research in her talk, "Homo sapiens: the ideal animal model"

Biology and preclinical medicine rely heavily upon research in animal models such as rodents, dogs, and chimps. But how translatable are the findings from these animal models to humans? And what alternative systems are being developed to provide more applicable results while reducing the number of research animals?

Last Thursday, PSPG invited Dr. Sarah Cavanaugh from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to discuss these issues. In her talk entitled, “Homo sapiens: the ideal animal model,” she emphasized that we are not particularly good at translating results from animal models into human patients. Data from the FDA says that 90% of drugs that perform well in animal studies fail when tested in clinical trials.  It may seem obvious, but it is important to point out that the biology of mice is not identical to human biology. Scientific publications have demonstrated important dissimilarities in regards to the pathology of inflammation, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and he…