‘Assault’ on NIH Funding for AIDS, Sexuality Research ‘Chilling,’ Opinion Piece Says
The Traditional Values Coalition's "hit list" of NIH research grants, which includes studies on HIV/AIDS and sexuality, is "particularly chilling" because of the "extensive scientific and ethical peer review" researchers go through before receiving NIH funding, Nancy Padian, director of international research at the University of California-San Francisco AIDS Research Institute, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece (Padian, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/6). In an apparent mix-up, a congressional staff member several weeks ago sent NIH a longer list of NIH research grants instead of a shorter list of 10 grants that conservative House members have questioned for several months. The longer list, which includes more than 200 grants representing $100 million in funding, was prepared by TVC, which says it represents 43,000 churches nationwide. NIH began calling researchers whose grants were on the list as part of a report for Congress on broad categories of grants (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/30). Padian says, "The integrity and independence of [the] peer review process is essential for the continued vitality and quality of American medical and public health research. It cannot be subjected to an extremist litmus test." She says that the research targeted by TVC "promotes the improvement of public health" and none of the research outcomes are "prejudiced in advance of the research" because a "lack of bias is a hallmark of quality scientific investigation." Padian concludes that it "is time for the Bush administration to distance itself firmly and explicitly from any kind of scientific McCarthyism," adding, "The unthinkable alternative is the erosion of this country's high standards for public health and medical research, and higher rates of infection from diseases that need to be cured and controlled. There is too much at stake to play politics" (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.