The Obama Administration will make history by hiring the government’s first “Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity” to mastermind a multi-million-dollar effort that boosts the number of minorities in biomedical research and slashes discrimination in the federal grant process.
The $500 million initiative to racially diversify medical research was launched last year after a government-sanctioned study uncovered a “disturbing and disheartening” lack of racial diversity in the field. Especially troubling are Uncle Sam’s discriminatory funding practices when it comes to distributing federal research grants, the study found.
Touted as one of the few government probes to focus solely on the racial and ethnic composition of federal research funding applicants, the study determined that blacks who apply for grants are less likely than whites and Hispanics to receive the awards. Of additional concern is the low number of “non-white applicants” who apply for the public grants in the first place, the study found.
Through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, the government doles out north of $31 billion annually to hundreds of thousands of researchers at thousands of universities and institutions around the globe. During a six-year period analyzed in the study, black researchers who applied for NIH grants were 10% less likely than whites to get the awards.
Researchers from the government-funded team of esteemed academics that conducted the minority probe think this is why; “the quality of educational and mentoring experiences may differ for applicants who self-identify as black or African-American.” In short, the NIH has admitted that it is guilty of not equally benefitting “all racial and ethnic groups.”
To right the wrong the NIH created a $500 million plan to support minority students with scholarships, research experiences and even graduate loan repayment. The agency is also creating a new committee that makes “diversity a core consideration of NIH governance” and ensures fairness in the peer review system that erases “unconscious bias related to disparities in research awards.” The plan also implements “implicit bias and diversity awareness training.”
This week the NIH announced that to lead the costly diversification effort it’s created a “new senior scientific position” of Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity. The agency plans to recruit a nationally-renowned scientist who will promote inclusiveness and equity throughout the biomedical research community, according to NIH Director Francis Collins. “Workforce diversity and inclusion is vital to the success of NIH to achieve scientific outcomes that advance the nation’s health,” Collins said.
The Obama Administration has followed through with its promise to ban funding for life-saving biomedical research on chimpanzees amid demands from leftist animal rights groups that claim the primates are being exploited.
The story first came to light about a month ago when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was considering classifying chimps—wild or captive—endangered by sometime next year. The agency acted after a consortium of influential animal rights groups demanded the government upgrade captive chimpanzees from threatened to endangered status, mainly to ban scientists from using the approximately 1,000 chimps available for biological and behavioral studies in the U.S.
Scientists have used chimps to produce life-saving vaccines for diseases such as Hepatitis B and to test drug safety and efficacy. Chimps have also been essential in AIDS research and the hope of developing an elusive vaccine against the deadlier Hepatitis C, an infectious viral disease that leads to swelling of the liver and plagues tens of millions of people worldwide.
The reason these primates are so valuable to medical researchers is that they share many similarities to humans, including more than 98% of the genetic code. In fact, chimps are the only known animal other than humans that can become infected with AIDS, the lethal virus that destroys the immune system.
Regardless, this week the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the government agency that funds medical and behavioral research, adhered to the demands of animal rights groups by suspending all new grants for work on chimpanzees. The director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, acknowledges that chimp research has “served an important role in advancing human health” but says the primates also deserve “special consideration and respect.”
Dr. Collins assures that the NIH is still committed to conducting and supporting “high-quality science” in the interest of advancing public health. Here are a few examples uncovered by Judicial Watch in the last few months alone: More than $1.4 million to study African baboon fecal samples that reveal alpha males have elevated stress levels; nearly $1 million to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex to help curb the spread of AIDS; north of $2 million to promote condom use among injecting drug addicts in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet socialist republic that serves as a main route for Russia and Europe-bound narcotics.
In the U.S. government’s global warming project du jour, American taxpayers will finance a new research program to determine which populations will be more “susceptible” and “vulnerable” to diseases exacerbated by climate change.One can only imagine what the brilliant scientists at the famously liberal academic institutions responsible for the research will come up with. In fact, the studies have yet to be done and already the Obama Administration is predicting the results; people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and those living in urban areas may be at elevated risk.To be fair, children, pregnant women and the elderly are also predicted to be at risk in the government’sannouncement of the new program this month. To get to the bottom of the mystery, experts will research the risk factors that make people more vulnerable to heart exposure, changing weather patterns, changes in environmental exposures such as air pollution and toxic chemicals. The negative effects of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts will also be studied.This explanation is straight from the National Institutes’ of Health, the country’s publicly-funded medical research agency and a leader in all things global warming. Besides identifying those most vulnerable to ailments caused by climate change, the new initiative will help better understand the direct and indirect human health risks in the United States and globally. The findings will help policy makers in creating health interventions to prevent harm to the most “vulnerable people,” says the NIH official in charge.This particular program is part of a broader NIH effort to fully understand the health impacts of climate change through the “interdisciplinary” and “inter-institutional collaboration” of experts from many research disciplines. Among them are environmental health scientists as well as climatology, modeling risk assessment, public health, communications and education experts.Let’s look at a few examples of what U.S. tax dollars are funding as part of this initiative; the impact of current and projected climate variables on the incidence of gastrointestinal disease in Ecuador. The results will help determine the importance of social factors and infrastructure availability in preventing gastrointestinal disease globally, according to the NIH.Here is another good one; a study to quantify the effects of biological, environmental and socioeconomic factors that make people more vulnerable to extreme heat. There is also a project to develop models to identify vulnerable geographical locations with increased health impacts due to heat waves and air pollution exposures.The Obama Administration has been quite active in its campaign to enlighten Americans about the ills of global warming. Earlier this year a group of esteemed scientists from several public universities warned that climate change will make food “dangerous” and add to the malnourishment of millions worldwide.Before that separate government evaluations revealed that global warming causes mental illness and cancerand that it creates national security threats by spreading disease among people and animals. Authored by government scientists from various agencies, the mental illness/cancer report claims global warming is one of the “most visible environmental concerns of the 21st century” The separate national security assessment, made by intelligence and health officials, says climate change will destabilize developing nations as well as the U.S. economy and military.
The government agency that recently spent millions on a genitalia-washing program for uncircumcised African men and condoms for Asian drug abusers has determined that Uncle Sam discriminates against a certain group of minority biomedical researchers.It took nearly three years for the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s medical research agency, to complete an in-depth study that concludes blacks who apply for federal research grants are less likely than whites and Hispanics to receive the awards. The NIH’s director conducted the probe to “learn more about the challenges facing the scientific community” and improve the diversity of its biomedical research workforce. He called the findings “disturbing and disheartening.”As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH doles out north of $31 billion annually to hundreds of thousands of researchers at thousands of universities and institutions around the world. The goal is to enhance the health of Americans and lengthen their life, though many of its costliest projects seem unrelated to the mission. More on that later.It turns out that, from 2000 to 2006, black researchers who applied for NIH grants were 10% less likely than whites to get the awards, according to the study, which is among the few to focus solely on the racial and ethnic composition of federal research funding applicants. Of additional concern is the low number of “non-white applicants” who apply for the public grants in the first place, researchers found.Why is this happening? Here is one rather interesting theory from the government-funded team of esteemed academics that conducted this particular study; “the quality of educational and mentoring experiences may differ for applicants who self-identify as black or African-American.”The bottom line is this, according to the NIH; “more research is also needed to investigate the conscious or unconscious bias in the scientific review process.” That, of course, means that U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for yet another lengthy probe on this matter. In the meantime, the NIH is guilty of not equally benefitting “all racial and ethnic groups.”This is the same agency that recently gave an Ivy League university professor more than $2 million to promote condom use among injecting drug addicts in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet socialist republic that serves as a main route for Russia and Europe-bound narcotics. Shortly after, the NIH doled out $823,200 for an equally questionable project that teaches uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex to help curb the spread of AIDS.
Thousands of African baboon fecal samples reveal that alpha males have elevated stress levels, indicating that a high social rank—long considered a benefit in many animal societies—actually brings conflict and stress that can take a mental and physical toll.Why should Americans care about this rather bizarre if not downright ridiculous discovery? Because U.S. tax dollars are financing the costly and ongoing study of male baboons in Kenya’s Amboseli Basin. In the last few years alone, Uncle Sam has given a group of college researchers north of $1.4 million to study the behavior of baboons in Africa.The money has been distributed by the nation’s steward of medical and behavioral research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the federal agency that funds science research and education. Combined their annual budgets total nearly $40 billion with a big chunk going to projects that seem as wasteful as studying monkeys eight time zones away.For instance, last year the NSF came under fire for giving a New York theater company $700,000 to finance a play about climate change and a Montana university $141,000 to study dinosaur eggs and other fossils in Hangzhou, China. The allocations came on the heels of a scathing inspector general report to Congress that revealed NSF employees spend significant portions of their workdays watching and downloading pornography without ever being disciplined.The baboon study is ongoing and has been financed by U.S. taxpayers for nearly a decade. Its latestearth shattering discovery involving alpha males was proudly publicized by both government agencies this week because it defies myths about social hierarchy. Essentially it reveals that life on top isn’t all it’s billed to be since it can be stressful and high levels of stress hormones can suppress immune function and lead to cardiovascular problems like hypertension, coronary heart disease and stroke.How did the brilliant Ivy League baboon expert and her colleague from a separate private university figure this out? By collecting more than 4,500 fecal samples from 125 male baboons. The poop was tested for metabolites of testosterone and the stress hormone glucocorticoid and later compared with the animals’ social rank (a previous government-funded study collected weather, life-history and behavioral data).They found that high-ranking males generally had higher testosterone and lower glucocorticoid levels than other males and that alpha males had much higher levels of glucocorticoid than beta males. This was true when the social hierarchy was stable and when it was undergoing changes. In a nutshell, the study yielded a “surprising downside” to being the alpha male. This “insight” will have implications for future studies of how social hierarchies influence health and wellness since baboons are genetically closely related to humans and they live in highly complex societies.