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Obama: Stimulus Act Gave Biomedical Research Record Boost

By Michael A. Fletcher
The National Institutes of Health has awarded $5 billion in grants to accelerate research into a broad range of diseases, President Obama announced Wednesday. The White House calls the spate of grants funded as part of the $787 billion stimulus act the largest infusion ever into biomedical research.

"This represents the single largest boost to biomedical research in history," Obama said.
The grants not only are expected to speed the development of advanced treatments for diseases such as cancer and heart disease, but they also will create tens of thousands of jobs over the next two years, the president said.

"We know that this kind of investment will also lead to new jobs: tens of thousands of jobs conducting research, manufacturing and supplying medical equipment, and building and modernizing laboratories and research facilities," said Obama , who highlighted the grants in an event at the National Institutes of Health. "I've long said, the goal of the Recovery Act was not to create make-work jobs, but jobs making a difference for our future. There is no better example than the jobs we will produce or preserve through the grants we are announcing this morning."

White House officials said the $5 billion outlay will support 12,000 cutting-edge research projects across the country.

"These awards will accelerate our progress towards the new medicines, treatments, and cures that will help Americans live longer, healthier lives," said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, who joined Obama at the N.I.H.

The grants funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are in several areas including heart disease, autism, HIV-AIDS, H1N1 Flu and cancer.

More than $1 billion of the grants will fund research applying the technology produced by the Human Genome Project.

The White House said the new funding "will allow researchers to make quantum leaps forward in studying the genomic changes linked to cancer, heart, lung, and blood disease and autism -- potentially leading to new treatments and cures."

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 30, 2009; 11:46 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Health Care  
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Stimulus = spending. That is the key, essential part of the definition. It is the spending that "stimulates" a collapsing economy. The purpose of a stimulus, anywhere, anytime, by any government and any party, and any political philosophy, is to inject spending into an economy that's flat on its back -- killing companies, jobs, and wealth as it fails -- with "temporary, targeted" spending that helps sustain and support the temporarily collapsed demand side of the economy. So saying that the stimulus spent a whole lot of money is kind of redundant. That's like saying a car is an automobile. Yes, that's what it is. And by the way, economists are generally agreed that coordinated stimulus spending by the major economies, including the U.S. stimulus package, successfully averted the recent near-depression and are continuing to support a gradual recovery. So stimulus also worked.

What was smart in the case of the U.S. stimulus was to target the spending to accomplish secondary goals (besides just plain stimulative spending). These became downpayments on the smart grid, clean energy, electronic medical records, education reform, medical research, and many other policy initiatives for which the American public overwhelmingly voted in November 2008. These are downpayments made with federal money that would have been spent anyway for something as part of the stimulus, since again, stimulus = spending.

What several commenters here seem to have total amnesia about is how this particular allocation to NIH came about. Then-Republican Arlen Specter's vote was incredibly important at the time to pass the stimulus bill, because of the Republican Party's general "Party of No" strategy to try to make the economy fail in order hurt Obama. (Remember "I hope he fails" from Rush Limbaugh?)

Specter would not have had any special clout if the Republican Party, wooed by the massive tax cuts the White House included in the stimulus package, had let its members freely decide on their votes. There would have been several Republican votes and his wouldn't have meant much. Instead, the "Party of No" strategy made a Republican vote (his) more precious than gold to get the stimulus passed.

It was widely reported and assumed that Specter's bargaining chip or price to get it passed was this very infusion of funds into NIH. As a cancer survivor with about the most serious medical history you can have while still serving, he believed that NIH had been grossly underfunded during the Bush years (most scientists I know agree) and that this money, though too late to help him, would be of enormous benefit to future victims of cancer and other diseases. No wonder he jumped the fence to the Democrats with a non-corporate, pro-citizen attitude like that.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | October 1, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Your NIH ARRA funds at work. Destroying future jobs and using taxpayers' dollars.

Top 100 H1B Visa Sponsors in College and University Education since 2008.


Top H1B Users funded by the NIH year 2008

1. University of Michigan H1Bs 489 salary $61,161
2. Harvard University H1Bs 399 $57,653
insert NIH Bethesda H1BS 364 ?
(the H1B numbers do not usually appear)
3. University OF Florida H1Bs 323 $61,818
4 Duke University H1Bs 314 $59,000

100 top H1B using universities total H1bs 2008 = 14,243 x $65,000 (salary+health care benefits) = $925,795,000

Posted by: concerneddemo | September 30, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

In the two large studies, the NIH’s contribution to the drug development process has been investigated both by the US government and a private think tank.
Out of thirty-five drugs and drug classes, private-sector research was responsible for applied science advances for thirty-four, and in the development of these drugs yielding improved clinical performance or manufacturing processes for twenty-eight. In this think tank study almost all of the drugs and drug classes examined were made and identifed by pharmaceutical companies. 1
In a 2001 report to Congress, trying to determine if taxpayer's had rights to drug royalties, the NIH concluded that none of the top-selling prescription drugs were developed entirely by the agency, and only four of 47 drugs with U.S. sales of $500 million a year had been developed in part with technologies created with NIH funding. 2
1. From The Truth About Drug Innovation: Thirty-Five Summary Case Histories on Private Sector Contributions to Pharmaceutical Science..Benjamin Zycher, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Joseph A. DiMasi, Director of Economic Analysis, Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, Christopher-Paul Milne A
2. From National Institutes of Health. A plan to ensure taxpayer interests are protected. NIH responses to the conference report request for a plan to ensure taxpayers’ interests are protected; July 2001 Available from:

Posted by: concerneddemo | September 30, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

If I may add, if they just had an increase in spending, good well-thought out proposals would emerge. By forcing them all to be submitted at once and in rush, there is not really time for review and the efficiency of the expenditures on mediocre proposals that normally would lose will be much less. No doubt, the whole stimulus program has this character.

Posted by: jhough1 | September 30, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Of course, they have worked the existing employees to death without increasing staff because the regular budget increase in NIH is going to be less than Bush. Some support of science.

Posted by: jhough1 | September 30, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Take your signs, your false accusations, your stupidity, and your spastic gesticulations over to the town hall meetings with the rest of your ilk.

Posted by: hayden1 | September 30, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

NIH that failed to deliver any breakthrough for curing cancer or other fatal diseases.

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | September 30, 2009 3:32 PM
Ladies and gentleman Introducing TalkingHead1, a freak of science produced in the laboratory of Dr. Dimwit Moron. Watch him blurt out utter nonsense and flatulence from his little banana-shaped head.

Posted by: hayden1 | September 30, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse


Pray tell, where's a cure for any form of cancer? Yes, some drugs or treatments were developed that could extend the lives of most cancer patients by up to few years - but not without some serious side-effects and at enormous financial costs to the patients and their medical insurers (if they were fortunate enough to have medical coverages that paid for their treatment, at all). Also, if the expectation of a complete cure for cancer is unrealistic, then why have the cancer researchers kept claiming their NIH funded research could lead to a cure for cancer? Just so that they can get the funding, right?

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | September 30, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

It is gratifying seeing Obama slowly learn the role of president. Stealing money from hard working taxpayers and redistributing it to health care research is so much better than stealing money from hard working taxpayers and redistributing it to criminal organizations like Acorn. I'll take incremental improvement. Its much better than the linear regression predicted path of complete and utter economic incompetance.

Posted by: Wiggan | September 30, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

TalkingHead1: you are wrong.

Evidently you are completely ignorant of cancer diagnostics and treatments and have expectations that are so at odds with reality that they are not even worth taking seriously.

Posted by: micron26 | September 30, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

cocnerneddemo: Your post is full of falsehoods and you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

For example: on my NIH GO Recovery Act grant, all 3 of the principal investigators are American. All of the technicians and informaticians who have been or will be hired are either American citizens or green-card holders (not H-1Bs). We are using cutting-edge technology that was developed by an American company (based in San Diego) founded by American PhDs. Because we are sequencing hundreds of genes in thousands of people the minimal expectation is that we will be able to develop molecular tests that will be of great benefit to many American children.

That scenario is quite typical of NIH-funded work.

The NIH does not offer pre-/postdoctoral funding to anyone who is either not an American citizen or green-card holder. They are in fact prohibited by law from doing so.

CTLangis: you also have no idea what you are talking about. About 50% of all existing drugs were funded by US government grants at some stage of their development. If you think that I don't expect to benefit financially from my discoveries (or that stimulus money in any way would inhibit that), you're crazy. By the way, government-run health care is a completely separate issue.

Posted by: micron26 | September 30, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Don't call it a stimulus. Call it for what it really is - a bailout for the NIH that failed to deliver any breakthrough for curing cancer or other fatal diseases, after decades of investiong billions of American taxpayers' money.

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | September 30, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Because of the NIH stimulus money, I was able to obtain funding for a study on the genetics of autism. Utilizing the latest genomics technology, this work will contribute as much to our understanding of the disease as essentially all previous studies--combined.

I will also be hiring at least 2 technicians to assist in carrying out the work.

Seems like a good use of money (about $3 million) to me, especially after the nonmilitary R&D cuts and freezes of the Bush era, when military spending was skyrocketing.

Posted by: micron26 | September 30, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Politicians and very wealthy corporate leaders (or their proxies) make lots of deals behind closed doors that most of us never get to examine. These deals benefit the parties present to the expense of the rest of us. Does anyone disagree?
At least the Dems acknowedge this is the problem. Now, if only more of them were capable of resisting being drawn into this cesspool.

Posted by: rooster54 | September 30, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Great idea if we had the money. Print and borrow is the status quo. The whole idea is to make us dependent on the government. Please vote out all dems and the message will wake up our reps.

Posted by: MOMLEE | September 30, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

rooster54 said:
"there'e plenty of blame to go around in both parties."

You describe the problem well. I use a somewhat simpler stated version:

Irresponsible, unethical, and greedy politicians are creating havoc with the country. They are elected by irresponsible and ignorant voters who don't hold elected officials responsible. As a result, what's best for the country is too often shoved aside.

Note when the constitution was being drafted, Jefferson said voters should be qualified, however he was overrode.


Posted by: Billw3 | September 30, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

You're right that there'e plenty of blame to go around in both parties. I share your distaste for government bailouts to corporate thieves.
Naomi Klein has investigated "the rise of disaster capitalism" where corporate leaders, institutional ideologues, and political leaders combine to cause economic calamities which leave the victims no choice but to meet the demands of the very people responsible for the problem. I believe that's largely what we're all currently stuck with.
It's worth checking out:

Posted by: rooster54 | September 30, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse


Billw3 said:
"The political goons spend money they don't have, then print and borrow it. The country is going to hell."

rooster54 crowed:
"The country was already taken to hell by the Bushes and Reagan. We progressives have the thankless job of trying to pull it back out."

Hey rooster.. Note I said 'political goons', not any particular party. Why not rise above your political stance?


Posted by: Billw3 | September 30, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Spending this ARRA money on the universities and NIH without science policy changes --US science reform --- is a atrocious waste of money, and really borders on fraud.

Why? Much of the scientific equipment is not made in the US and most of the scientists employees are foreigners, perhaps as many as 100 thousand of the NIH university scientists particularly second tier workers are foreign worker H1Bs. For real tough and meaningful talk with a significant future impact on the production of future jobs President Obama's tough talk could start with, "the US government is going to have the foreign H1Bs train a US citizen replacement and send the H1B back to their foreign country without anymore of the taxpayers' hard-earned money." Too shocking? Why is that so wrong? That is what the international companies have been doing this to the US citizens for ten years. Before being fired, and order to obtain severance pay, the US citizens are often required to train their foreign H1b replacements. The Americans should demand this change in the use of their money. This is the type of real honest policy change that is necessary to show the world and the US taxpayer that the US government is pursuing a real effort to affect jobs growth into the future, and not just throwing away money. Solutions required toughness. Not throwing away money. It is easy for all of us to now to see that GM and Crysler, etc are dead after the fact. They are bankrupt with stock collapsed and pension decimated NYSE:GM now is GMGMQ is selling for 0.39 today and is down... The more difficult issues are understanding the government policies that contributed to their demise during their failure.

To use the ARRA money, the supposed American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, there is not a single H1B restriction. Even as employment crosses 10 % the government is spending money on foreigner's salary.

Posted by: concerneddemo | September 30, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The political goons spend money they don't have, then print and borrow it. The country is going to hell.

Posted by: Billw3 | September 30, 2009 12:44 PM

The country was already taken to hell by the Bushes and Reagan. We progressives have the thankless job of trying to pull it back out.

Posted by: rooster54 | September 30, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"Everyone knows that one of the biggest problems with a government run healthcare system is the lack of motivation to create new and innovative treatments and drugs...."
Posted by: CTLangis | September 30, 2009 12:26 PM

You're wrong.

Everyone does NOT know it because it ain't so. Positions like yours are maintained by a stuuborn unwillingness to accept new findings based on reliable methods.

The old order once had a hard time accepting the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun. Then,as today, it was vested interests vs. science.

Posted by: rooster54 | September 30, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The political goons spend money they don't have, then print and borrow it. The country is going to hell.


Posted by: Billw3 | September 30, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows that one of the biggest problems with a government run healthcare system is the lack of motivation to create new and innovative treatments and drugs. This is more political games by our President.

Posted by: CTLangis | September 30, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Four little words that make me rant are federal subsidy and federal grant.

Posted by: tiktin | September 30, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

As Obama is congratulating himself, more and more are losing their jobs and homes. Whatever happened to the stimulus for Main Street. Looks like were on our own. Some change.

Posted by: AugustWest1 | September 30, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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