« PreviousContinue »
stages of adulthood; changes in governmental functions and organization; influences of older people on political parties and politicians.
The special needs here, it seems to me, are for (1) recognition of the problems, (2) recognition of social phenomena and processes as fields for scientific inquiry, and (3) provision of funds for research in these areas. My impression is that, by and large, governmental funds for research in aging are fairly restricted to psychobiological and health-related fields and that there is relatively little authorization for support of social science research per se, in either its basic or applied aspects. I have the further impression that nongovernmental support in the field of aging leans toward projects which are of immediate practical application.—Clark Tibbitts.
On the question of a possible imbalance in the amounts being spent on medicalbiological research on aging as over against social science research, we have no factual information one way or the other. We feel that both approaches should be pursued vigorously. The only limit should be the availability of qualified personnel to carry out competently conceived research projects.—Thomas T. Tourlentes.
I do not have a good overall perspective on the relative amounts spent for medical-biological research on aging as opposed to social science research; it is my impression that research of the former type needs greatly to be fostered and encouraged if significant progress in this difficult field is to be made.—Arthur C. Upton.
I find it difficult to decide as to whether an imbalance as suggested in item I exists in fact. My own feeling is that more funds for behavioral science research should be seriously considered, especially on issues that may not produce immediate practical results. It would seem that an overwhelming amount of current behavioral or social science research deals with interpretation of demographic data and problems relating to retirement.-Otto von Mering.
I am not familiar with the total expenditures appropriated in biology-medicine as against social science. I am of the opinion, however, that any major breakthrough in important fundamental knowledge concerning aging will come from the biology-medicine side. In social sciences, it appears to be primarily a matter of applying and perhaps somewhat modifying known concepts and methods of management. Therefore, the significantly major share of expenses in stretching our frontiers of knowledge will be born by the biology-medicine projects and they deserve and require the major share of research appropriations. Please note carefully that I am stressing the phrase "research appropriations," as in matters of care for the aged the balance weighs heavily to the opposite side.-A. Kurt Weiss.
I do not think there are many medical-biological research projects which could use more financing at this time. Therefore, the social ones are getting more money.-Frederick L. Weniger.
I feel that there is a need for research in the social sciences, but the level of our knowledge limits our approach to the problem so severely that a great expenditure of funds for this purpose would probably be wasted at the present time.-C. D. West.
There is some evidence of an imbalance in research activity between medicalbiological research and social science research. I note in the publication, Programs and Resources for Older People—"A Report to the President,” by the Federal Council on Aging, September 30, 1959, that medical-biological research expenditures by the Federal Government amounted to an estimated $17.2 million for fiscal year 1960. The majority of this research is carried on by the Public Health Service. The figure does not include substantial amounts expended in research programs and grants that are concerned with disease areas, such as cancer and heart disease that have their largest incidence among older people, but include other age groups.
The differential in expenditures for these two general areas of research cannot be taken as the sole criterion that an imbalance exists, since the factor of need and importance must be considered. In addition, there is considerable research going on under private auspices. However, my personal observations and exchanges of information with my colleagues in the field would tend to support the conclusion that there is need for more research in the social science area.
In contrast to this figure, the same report identifies a category of services called education, library services, and miscellaneous research presumably social science research, in which $372 million of expenditures are estimated for fiscal year 1960. The majority of these expenditures was made by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Other Government agencies, including the Department of Labor expend relatively small amounts for social science research on aging mostly of a short-term nature. For example, more recent studies of the Department, as you may know, have been concerned with productivity of the older worker; employee adjustments, especially the older employee, to the introduction of automation; cost-of-living studies; and various analyses of fringe benefits, including health insurance and pensions.-Seymour L. Wolfbein.
Since I have only superficial knowledge of the extent of age-related social science research, I cannot give a meaningful comparison. However, I believe that there is a need for increased support of basic biological research into the nature and causes of aging.–Verner J. Wulff.
Question No. 2
Is there a need for improving the governmental procedure of grants and public investments in aging research? If so, how might this be improved?
Responses Again, I am inclined to say yes. Many of the Government grants are made to big schools. That is fine, but some of those grants are large enough to allow a researcher to have a secretary, at least part time to whom a letter or report could be dictated (this one for example). It may be held that big schools have only “big men,” and small schools, only small ones. That could be an error.
In the past it has happened that certain big institutions have received big grants, more than they could use, and money had to be turned back, while smaller institutions have received inadequate aid, or none at all. It might also be worthy of comment that the social sciences have far more to contribute to studies of aging and the aged than is presently realized. Some small schools feel that asking for grants to explore an idea is hardly worth the effort because large schools have greater facilities, prestige, and looser schedules which enable them to seek financial support with these advantages.—Chester Alexander.
There is need for improving the governmental procedure of grants and of public investments in aging research. Such a program, however, should begin virtually from the ground up rather than by immediate and substantial grants to large numbers of persons. The fundamental problem is how you develop a whole area in order that 10 years and 20 years hence distinguished research will be undertaken in this area comparable to that in competitive fields. What is needed is a substantial body of active and dedicated younger scientists within the various fields who will make a career of research on older persons.-John E. Anderson.
In relation to governmental procedure of grants and public investments in aging research, I believe that more research might be labeled specifically as "research on aging” and that some greater attempt at correlation of such studies should be made. I feel that this question is also related ito question 10.Warren Andrew.
As near as I can tell from personal experience, the governmental procedure of grants as it has affected my research has been excellent; and I would have no criticism. I feel that aging is a problem in general biology. I do not feel that funds should be too earmarked for work marked “aging.” Amounts should be spent, I believe, in broad support of good laboratories that will cover the problems of aging as well as others.—Henry H. Banks.
Although I have managed to do considerable research in gerontology as will be seen by the enclosed bibliography it has been done almost exclusively without subsidy of any kind at my own personal expense of both time and money. I imagine there are other researchers in small liberal arts colleges who are in a similar position where little, if any, time is allowed for research so that investigations must be done on weekends and in vacations. The large universities and research centers, I believe, find it much easier to get block grants extending over a period of several years and allowing considerable flexibility in the selection and allocation of research personnel.
The small grant program of the U.S. Public Health Service has been a Godsend to the lone investigator (I, myself, had one small grant for typing and some needed testing equipment). I feel that these grants should be expanded and made more flexible.—Belle Boone Beard.
It is my opinion that the current practice is entirely adequate.—Howard B. Bensusan.
The governmental procedure of grants in aging research as in other types of medical research is excellent and serves as a model for all other countries. I do not see at the moment how it could be improved or be made more objective.Geoffrey H. Bourne.
This question is worded so that careful attention must be given to the meaning of words. To "improve” any procedure is a reasonable aim, and it is my opinion that the major granting agencies are constantly and conscientiously working to make their granting systems free of prejudice and bias, and are shifting to meet current needs and to give proper support to justified research efforts.
It is my belief that the awarding system should be the responsibility of a scientific group and should not be assigned to a service- or action-oriented agency or office. Social scientists with whom I have communicated have all expressed the belief that in the event that Government funds are made available for expanding social science research, the responsibility for granting these funds should be placed either in the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health, or in a combination of these three existing, highly respected scientific groups.-Ewald W. Busse.
We shall learn more about the aging of tissues, how to prevent it and how to restore or substitute in many instances, but it will be a slow process for aging involves growth and repair of tissues. Cancer has had the same challenge and we all know how slow the pace has been in this area. If aging research is pressured, much financial aid will go down the drain.-Earl O. Butcher.
I believe there could well be some improvement in the procedure for governmental grants for research. One important substantive change is that the congressional appropriation legislation increase the present limit on overhead from 15 percent to at least 20 percent. The present 15-percent level is very inadequate and discourages universities from undertaking research projects. Another needed change is to include funds for some block grants (see reply to question 4).Wilbur J. Cohen.
This is being done to some extent by the present policy of making generous grants to finance special projects in research training and medical care. These special projects are of temporary duration. It is a good move to increase the length of time that they cover, but this is not sufficient.-E. V. Cowdry.
I've heard no complaints as to procedure in making grants. My own experiences have been satisfactory.-Sears Crowell.
In my opinion the procedure for administering Government grants currently employed by the National Institutes of Health is highly commendable, both from the viewpoint of the research investigator and from the standpoint of the efficient use of funds. The essential feature of this program is the direct contact maintained between the donor agency and the research worker. This arrangement precludes the diversion of funds through administrative offices into areas which are unrelated to the problem at hand, and permits the investigator to exercise his own initiative in prosecuting the research project. Investments in aging research should be administered in a similar fashion.—H. H. Draper.
It is my opinion that many governmental agencies are seriously hampered by lack of funds for both contractual research and for research grants. I will illustrate my point by using the Housing and Home Finance Agency, because as a member of the National Advisory Committee on Housing the Elderly to this agency, I am familiar with some of the needs.
HHFA, like other Federal agencies, spends vast sums of money in carrying out action programs, but is not able either to pretest its products or to evaluate their usefulness after their development because it lacks funds for both contract and grant research. The National Advisory Committee continually recommends research into the problems of housing the elderly, but the agency, lacking a research grant program, is unable to stimulate such studies or to contract for them directly. Congress, in addition to providing funds for the building of housing for the elderly, should also pass legislation to establish a research grant program and, also, to support contractual research.
Such funds should be available to Federal agencies even if the National Science Foundation were to establish a unit on social science research in aging. The Foundation will, as it does now continue to underwrite mainly basic scientific studies, while the agencies often have urgent need for answers to practical problems. In other words, there is a need for basic_social science research but there is also urgent need for the problem-centered research which will more readily meet the immediate needs of Government and other program planners and administrators.
The influence of grant programs on increasing knowledge in a specific field finds an excellent example in the United States Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. This well-administered program is resulting in a tremendous increase in research on disabilities and the means to overcome them, and is increasing significantly the number of persons prepared to give service and research in the field. Other Government agencies, having similar funds available, could achieve similar objectives in the specific fields of their concern.-Wilma Donahue.
I feel that the grant mechanism, as established, has worked well except for the imbalance mentioned above. Personally, I should like to see much more attention devoted to the application of medical-biological and social research, especially through the use of so-called demonstration projects in communities.Eugene A. Confrey.
Given the limited awareness in the universities concerning the problems of aging research, I think the previous methods may have represented the best that could be done in distributing research grants. I would hope that, as a consequence of the groundwork laid by the Institutes sponsored by the Gerontological Society and HEW there should now be enough competent people in the universities to permit a number of pilot grants through them. When the results of these pilot grants have been evaluated it may become clear that a great enlargement of the participation by universities should take place. This is a slow process and perhaps other agencies could be used immediately on a shortrun basis. In the long run I think the universities should assume a very large part of the responsibilities involved in choosing the people who are going to do the work. In my view it is these people and their abilities and interests who will make or break the research program.-Fred Cottrell.
Yes; money now goes largely through universities with graduate trainees as researchers.-G. L. Freeman.
Questions 2 and 3. I believe that the best method for improving the governmental procedure of grants and public investments in aging research would be through establishment of an Institute of Gerontology as well as the establishment in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare of a Bureau on the Aged comparable to the Children's Bureau. Establishment of research granting and policy determining agencies whose specific interests focus on the problems of the aged would presumably result in a more comprehensive appreciation of the biological, social, economic, and psychological problems associated with the aging process and with an aging population. The result should be better use of available funds on basic medical-biological research, social science research and “policy research.”—Sidney Goldstein.
The type of support that to me appears most promising is principally in the form of large block grants to an appropriate institution to support a specifically described long-range project, rather than in a form that may be absorbed into the ordinary operating expenses of the institution. To make the grant to an individual is too limited, while, on the other hand, to make the grant to the institution without fairly precise definition of a specific project tends to dissipate research funds in unfruitful ways.-Alexander Grendon.
The project grants have served well the needs of laboratory investigation. They are less adapted to the needs of broad community studies. The use of institutional grant procedure, if made available to those whose primary responsibility is in the conduct of community-based research, would largely solve this problem. It would be urged, therefore, that consideration be given to making institutional grants available to those who are prepared to proceed with broad community studies.—Albert V. Hardy.
I believe that the present governmental procedure of grants and public investments in aging research can be improved and I will make specific recommendations later.—Harry F. Harlow.
Questions Nos. 2, 4, 7, and 8. Improvement in the governmental procedure of grant awards is needed with respect to long-term projects. Numerous gerontologists are beginning to emphasize the importance of longitudinal studies. These require detailed planning as well as dedicated personnel who are willing to commit themselves to remain with the project for many years. At present the staff lacks assurance of stable positions and the principal investigator spends a great deal of valuable time in attempting to procure the necessary financial support which is usually granted for a 1- or -year period. Lately, there has been a trend toward 5-year commitments, which represents a most welcome change. Long-range studies require long-range financing and proper planning, and organization would be facilitated greatly if support were guaranteed for decades rather than years. This procedure would also serve to stimulate young scientists to participate in research on aging, particularly if multidisciplinary training programs became available. The establishment of large-scale centers is a relatively recent and important approach to the study of aging. Many more are needed and existing institutions will have to expand their facilities as