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in essence provide for the establishment of gerontological research laboratories on a long-term basis and in so doing permit individual researchers as well as institutions to think in terms of long commitments to various essential kinds of gerontological research.—Robert W. Kleemeier.
I believe that large block grants should be encouraged for those studies in which a large comprehensive program, is necessary for attacking a particular problem. I would be particularly wary of large block grants in the fields of social science research.--Ross C. Kory.
Large block grants should be encouraged but only to those investigators who are both dedicated and productive. It may be emphasized that research on aging is a long-term proposition and it is hard to have to wait for periods of years so that old animals are available for experimentation. Conversely, even nonspectacular results provide basic information in a wide variety of fields. Hence, the establishment of block grants may allow the long-range research which is essential in the field.-C. P. Leblond.
Not unless these are devoted to medical research on a broad basis, unrestricted by age, or unless designated with some specific purpose in mind-such as, for example, a primate colony.—John W. Magladery.
Large block grants. If a group of investigators at an institution has already shown, by work of high quality, a real interest in research on aging, a large block grant is a desirable way of promoting stability for long-range project planning and for personnel; but in general I am skeptical of block grants in a particular research
Medical schools are so badly in need of money that administrators are sorely tempted by the possibility of a large block grant. I have read applications that seemed to show widespread interest in problems oi aging, and a multidisciplinary approach, and then I have found, on visiting the institutions, that the interest was artificial and that there was no real working together of members of various departments.--Donald Mainland.
Yes. I think a great deal is accomplished by providing funds to research units university or other to administer in the interests of encouraging a continuing program of research in gerontology. Support of the small project is important and should not be neglected but a few large grants supporting numerous related projects would give social science work in gerontology a big boost.-J. W. McConnell and Fred Slavick.
I believe that large block grants can be made to selected universities or research centers on a sound basis. Sometimes there is a tendency to do this in order to apportion large amounts if adequate funds are available. Some foundations like the Ford Foundation are wholesalers rather than retailers of research grants!! Sometimes the grants are made by those who are not specialists in certain fields.Ross A. McFarland.
The large block grants that have come to my attention have not impressed me very favorably as to their design and methods of execution. On the other hand, all project research is expensive and risky for many university departments. It places a burden of maintenance and of personnel on them that they may not be able to afford. For example, if a research grant is requested and the investigator is named, there is a delay of months to a year before approval is given. Can the department put the work aside in the meantime? Can the investigator be held, or called back or can he be assigned to other teaching duties?
How can a university department or research outfit take on a project of large scope and long duration unless it is guaranteed long and adequate support and freedom to move within that support?--Robert T. Monroe.
Large block grants, properly allocated, are most desirable, but such grants should be made very sparingly. The work resulting from large groups often tends to be diffuse, perhaps because of the heterogeneity of the research group. Aging alone is not enough of a unifying idea to keep scientists with widely different backgrounds and interests happy and creative. The study of aging is the study of the biological spectrum of individuals, from conception to death. All biological phenomena are germane to this problem. For this reason, I approve of large projects which consider a single organ system, or tissue groups, such as heart, arthritis and metabolic diseases, dental research, etc. The various National Institutes should actively seek good research programs and support them.
It is very strange that there should not be a National Institute for Research on Skin.
When one considers the biological as well as the sociological importance of skin, no amount of effort and funds should be spared to expand our meager knowledge of it.— William Montagna.
The question of block grants should be settled by discussion between economists and a grant awards committee.—Matthew T. Moore.
Doubt it.-Robert W. Mowry.
No. A man works better on his own idea rather than on someone else's.Elizabeth Moyer.
Ideally, there should be in the United States a number of facilities so designed that the concomitant study of experimental animals and human subjects may be carried out.-Gregory Pincus.
No; serves mostly the convenience of the grant distributors.-Otto Pollak.
As I see it, large block grants have the special advantage of putting the administration of funds largely in the care of university administrative offices and relieving the individual research worker of many administrative duties. This should, of course, allow more time for productive research. I approve of this as long as block grants are wisely administered by universities in the manner in which the granting agency and the individual research worker would approve.Dorothy Price.
Block grants are desirable in aging research but they should not be made at the expense of support for individual studies.
If aging research is limited only to block grants, the natural division of this research will be into the haves and the have-nots. It is my opinion that individual research efforts have proven to be much more important in real contributions to biological research than the oneman or even a committee-controlled block grant research programs. As all of us know, the greatness of the United States of America was achieved by the combined efforts of independent individuals in contrast to regimented group activities.Ernest Retzlaff.
Yes, but with great judiciousness and only after thorough investigation of requests for such block grants. As suggested above (for long-range support procedures), regular critical examination of such block programs is especially desirable to insure against dissipation of efforts which can result from spreading too thinly, when the research director responsible for such grants is primarily concerned with other research and teaching responsibilities. Where the research project director occupies a research professorship chair, such as is suggested above, block grants can be assured of effective, coordinated direction and therefore be most effective.Morris Rockstein.
Yes.-James B. Rogers.
Some of the philanthropic foundations insist on large block grants, in order to reduce relative expenses for their administration. This sometimes leads to great waste, because of the insufficiency of trained personnel in the social sciences and because of the difficulties of organizing large-scale research organizations on a temporary basis. I would say that the present need is for the greater availability of small grants, and I would hope the Government might serve this need. Arnold M. Rose.
Large bloc grants may be in order if they serve to support truly interdisciplinary research ventures. My experience with an interdepartmental committee on gerontology at the University of Washington suggests that it is difficult to develop such a program unless a relatively autonomous structure is available which can delve into different specialties. Such a structure is expensive, however, and rarely supportable from regular university sources. A bloc grant for such a purpose would seem worth while.-K. Warner Schaie.
Large bloc grants such as multidisciplinary project at Duke University or Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York will be useful. It is suggested that similar grants be made available to a number of large teaching municipal institutions with sufficient material on aging patients.—Henry P. Schwarz.
Yes; such grants should be encouraged where the research design is soundly conceived and the environment offers promise of productivity.-James A. Shannon.
Substantial bloc grants should be made to universities and medical schools to establish centers for research on aging which should be interdisciplinary in character with provisions for integrating research and training. Because of the special facilities required, many of which are expensive to establish and maintain, the Federal Government should provide total funds for construction of laboratories and animal facilities without requiring matching funds from the institution.-Nathan Shock.
As in any field of research, progress in gerontology is to be expected from contributions of individual investigators rather than from institutions as such. Therefore, large bloc grants should be discouraged, although an occasional exception may be made in case of an unusually promising project.-Martin Silberberg.
Yes, by all means; I believe bloc grants should be encouraged, not only to institutions, but to departments. I believe that such grants would go far in breaking down some of the rigidity and limitations which result from the project grant method. Each has its advantages, but the bloc grants would allow a school or department that degree of latitude necessary to enhance and strengthen certain areas of research. - Alexander Simon.
Large bloc grants should be encouraged where they can be properly directed, provided that they involve commitments for a period of years.—Henry S. Simms.
To a limited extent. These tend to produce "empires” ruled by Parkinson's law.-Durwood J. Smith.
As already indicated in discussing question 2, above, I am thoroughly convinced that large bloc grants should be encouraged, with appropriate review procedures to assure the most effective possible expenditure of the funds.—Jeremiah Stamler.
Large bloc grants are useful and should be encouraged in those areas where development of research is on a firm footing. Large oaks grow by stages from small acorns and large bloc grants work fast where the program has developed gradually and soundly. Large bloc grants to institutions which have an inadequate supply of research personnel lead to the employment and retention of mediocre persons and are destructive.-Eugene A. Stead, Jr.
Yes. (See Nos. 1 and 2, above.)-Joseph W. Still.
In answer to this question we again face the possibility of the meaning of the words used. If "large block grants” implies unrestricted grants for programs of research in general areas in which the investigator has the freedom to develop new leads, to shift emphases, and to reallocate resources and facilities, then I favor large block grants. However, support for this large block research grant should not be construed as advocacy of research programs which exclude the single investigator who does not have the institutional arrangements to pursue largescale research. Within a broad program of research support there should be opportunity for a variety of research enterprises, methodologies, and points of view. Moreover, there is a definite need to consider to whom large block grants are awarded. In some instances, the large grants are given to prestige organizations who actually do not have the personnel for conducting large-scale research. Then begins the desperate search and bidding for the scarce personnel in the field. The shortage of first-rate social scientists in research in aging, it seems to me, is one of the greatest deficiencies, and the major factor hampering further research advances.—Gordon F. Streib.
In my opinion, large block grants are sometimes a source of waste. I believe that the money could be more efficiently spent by giving the grant to individuals who are themselves completely interested in the studies on the problems of aging.–Norman M. Sulkin.
Large block grants should be given out only to a very limited extent. Many of the big interdisciplinary projects in particular have wasted a great deal of money and prevented good investigation on a smaller scale from being supported.-Neil C. Tappen.
This suggests that long-term, relatively unrestricted investments in the work of imaginative and productive individuals and teams in the form of block grants could be expected to be fruitful. There are some individuals now and perhaps some research teams whose work and commitment to the field would warrant such investments. Certainly, it would be wise to encourage such developments in social gerontology and in the basic social service disciplines as they are now being pioneered in biological and medical gerontology.-CĪark Tibbitts.
Large block grants to qualified investigators produce better returns overall than project-type research. This does not mean that project-type research is not worthwhile. Perhaps through proper use of project-type research those investigators worthy of long-term general support can be discovered and developed. There is some danger in project-type research of undue emphasis on what is fashionable for the moment in terms of uninformed public interest. This can lead to support of contrived research and wasteful expenditures of money in unproductive areas. Large block grants should encourage adequate travel, study, training, and collaboration among investigators. In this way timely exchange of information will be facilitated and needless duplication of effort will be avoided. Many journals are more than a year behind in their publication schedule, and, of course, important negative results are rarely published. Personal communication tends to bring this valuable information out into the open.—Thomas T. Tourlentes.
Concerning block grants, I am in favor of long-term support of able investigators at levels generous enough to permit the fullest development of their productivity. I do not approve, however, of blanket support of institutions or departments, or prematurely generous backing of young unproven scientists.Arthur C. Upton.
Being a member of a center for the study of aging at the University of Miami and also the recipient of an independent research grant on aging from the NIH, I feel very definitely that grants to individuals are to be encouraged at the expense of large block grants. Dollar for dollar the citizen receives more from ndividual grants. Large block grants invariably require more or less extensive middleman management which adds to the cost. Since the individual investigator is unable to direct the disbursement of funds directly (the principal investigator does this for the individual investigator), there is often a waste of funds to avoid the unspent funds being diverted to some other individual investigator. I have seen no joint purchases for purpose of economy and all in all it is in general as if individual grants had been given to individuals, but they are now handled by local administrators rather than the more experienced hands of the NIH. Of course, the local administrators are responsible to the NIH, but the individual investigator has little contact and opportunity to avail himself of the services offered by NIH.-A. Kurt Weiss.
Large block grants should be encouraged. The work that results from such grants seems to be of increasing value.-James M. A. Weiss.
Large block grants to individuals or institutions should be encouraged.— Frederick L. Weniger.
In the area of gerontological research, large block grants would be advisable only where a group of investigators in one department or laboratory were all dedicated to this type of research. In such cases, large block grants covering a sufficiently long period (i.e., 10 years or more) would assure continuity of effort and enhance productivity. At present, with the exception of Dr. Nathan Shock's group, I know only of individual interests in research into the nature and causes of aging. Careful consideration should be given the proposition of establishing and supporting other institutes of gerontology.-Verner J. Wulff.
Question No. 5
Are you satisfied with the nature and composition of research grant and study awards committees?
Responses If your detailed letter is an index of your attention to all persons who have some major interest in research, I would certainly say yes, but your letter is the first communication of any kind that I have from your good offices. Am I satisfied? Yes, but I would be pleased to know more about their work and plans.-Chester Alexander.
The real problem here is that the attitude of the administrators of the granting agency and of the value system developed within the organization that administers the research grants is important. In my opinion, both the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health are excellent organizations in this respect for three reasons. First, the administrative staffs are made up chiefly of persons with a scientific background rather than of persons with administrative or political backgrounds who see their own function as one of facilitating research and of aid to investigators in developing grant programs. The study award committees are made up of very competent specialists within particular scientific