Photo Credit: Josh Witten (CC BY-NC-SA)
With apologies to Howard Andrew Jones; but I am at the beach and could not resist.
From the outside, the NIH is a huge sprawling pit of bureaucracy that somehow manages to fund science across the entire spectrum of biomedical research. From the inside, I’ve discovered that there are branches and offices, of which most scientists are totally unaware. In addition to the 27 institutes and centers that make up the NIH, there is a special office dedicated to cutting edge science, risky ventures, and cross-disciplinary collaborations. The NIH Common Fund coordinates research that involves at least two institutes or centers and tries to help remove the roadblocks that keep basic scientific discoveries from moving to the clinic.
I had no idea this office existed and some of the projects they are funding are pretty exciting. There is a single cell analysis project focused on developing the necessary technology and creating workshops to train scientists to use these new techniques. There is also a project to systematically characterize genetic knock-out mice in order to have complete characterization of knock-outs of all genes in the mouse. The mice have all been generated and now the Common Fund is paying for characterization of all the mutant mice. This would be a huge resource for both labs using mice as a model system and those looking to follow their gene of interest into a vertebrate model organism.
The Common Fund puts out requests for applications for all sorts of interdisciplinary projects and the forefront of scientific research is visible in their current efforts.
Contrary to political posturing, there are more than two positions on the climate change issue. There are political conservatives who accept anthropogenic climate change, but prefer using market forces to address the problem. These individuals rate a 4 on my Dubiosity Scale (1 is the most dubious).
According to an article in the NY Times by Eduardo Porter, the US insurance industry may also rate a 4. It accepts the scientific consensus position, but is reluctant to engage in political squabbles, because the threat of punitive regulation is a bigger risk than increased payouts due to worsening weather:
Yet when I asked Mr. Nutter what the American insurance industry was doing to combat global warming, his answer was surprising: nothing much…Instead, the focus of insurers’ advocacy efforts is zoning rules and disaster mitigation. – Eduardo Porter
Porter summarizes the position of a 4 on the Dubiosity Scale in his last sentence:
And that’s the best hope for those concerned about climate change: that global warming isn’t just devastating for society, but also bad for business. -Eduardo Porter
But, what happens when the issue is so politicized that the market forces are responding to the politics and not the market?
Part 2: Remix
High fives to Jurgen Otto for this work.
“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.