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members. It is suggested that a site visit be made by nonmembers of the study committee in order that an evaluation of the research project be made by an individual who has not attended the study section meeting.-Ernest Retzlaff.
In general I am satisfied with the present machinery for research grant awards as exemplified by the U.S. Public Health Service extramural grants program. Membership of study award committees should probably be rotated often enough to prevent rigid fixation of award policy. As a scientist who has been privileged to work under the support of a Public Health Service research grant for the past 5 years, I am deeply grateful for the opportunities to explore fields which could not otherwise have been approached.—John Robert Ring.
Under the present system, whereby grants for aging studies can be made from any Institute and through a variety of study sections, I am quite satisfied with the present system. However, it is obvious that this system often means that a study section, concerned with and highly competent in a specific field, is called upon from time to time, to pass on a grant request for an aging study, which the study section members themselves might be happier to have had assigned to a specific study section on aging (if one were available).—Morris Rockstein.
I am satisfied that the study section committees pick out projects with merit. James B. Rogers.
My criticism of the NIH committees (see No. 2)_applies in large measure to many of the other research fund-granting committees I am familiar with. There is a tendency for all organizations to be self-perpetuating and ingrown, unless concrete efforts are made avoid this.- Arnold M. Rose.
As mentioned under point 2, it would be desirable if grants were evaluated by study committees which include scientists active in aging research in their respective specialties.-K. Warner Schaie.
I am generally satisfied with the nature and composition of the research grant and study awards committees.—Henry P. Schwarz.
Yes.-James A. Shannon.
The present program of support for projects proposed by individual investigators should be continued and expanded within the National Institutes of Health. I believe that the research grant and study section of the National Institutes of Health are doing an excellent job. However, there should be a study section with a primary interest in gerontological research. The period of commitment of financial support for many studies in gerontology should be extended to 10 to 15 years.—Nathan Shock.
The nature and composition of the present research grants and study award committees seem quite satisfactory. The grantees enjoy the necessary freedom of action in their approach to a proposed project, and while the investigations are being carried out, no pressure is exerted regarding the work. Some additional comments concerning the composition of study committees as relating to research on aging will be found in answer to question 10.—Martin Silberberg.
No, I am not satisfied with the present composition of award committees since gerontology is not represented. Furthermore, I favor classifying the award committees according to problems (gerontology, arteriosclerosis, cancer, etc.) rather than according to teaching departments (pathology, microbiology, etc.).Henry S. Simms.
Although my experience has been limited, from all that I have known of the makeup of the study committees they tend to do a serious and responsible job, attempting to weigh appropriately all the factors involved in making recommendations concerning grants. There have been comments made that some of the committees are too concerned with methodology and that as a result unnecessary restrictions are placed upon proposals made by investigators; but my own experience indicates that in general considerable latitude and freedom is permitted by the National Institute of Mental Health, once a research grant is awarded. - Alexander Simon.
Most responsible biochemists are probably more interested in extending Federal support to cover the serious financial problems of their own institutions rather than extending the categories under which grant applications can be filed, For the most part fundamental biochemical and biological investigations, including many of significance in aging, are pertinent to a number of the presently existing categories of support. The study sections are generally fair and highly competent. Among the scientists sincerely interested in categorical research, such as cancer or heart disease, those interested in aging are a small minority.-F. Marott Sinex.
Very good and very fair in their decisions.—Durwood J. Smith.
My general impression of the nature and composition of research grant and study awards committees of the National Institutes of Health is very positive. As the Jones report indicates, there is undoubtedly need for an increase in the number of study sections, to assure continued high quality review in the face of the ever larger number of applications. This expansion should include the creation of study sections embracing special areas hitherto not represented.Jeremiah Stamler.
I am satisfied with them.-Eugene A. Stead, Jr.
No (see 1 and 2 above).-Joseph W. Still.
My opinion, based upon rather limited information, is that the research grant and study award committees have been highly competent social scientists who have carried out their tasks in a most responsible professional manner. I have heard criticisms voiced that the committees tend to be quite self-perpetuating and there has been a tendency to approve grants mainly for studies which had precise research designs.
Applying rigid methodological standards and statistical requirements are, of course, important criteria, but overemphasis upon design and precision may eliminate imaginative and productive exploratory research. I would like to add that, in my opinion, the grant and award committees in NIH have been much more objective and professionally minded in their selection procedures than has one of the largest private foundations which has supported research in the field of aging.Gordon F. Streib.
I am very much satisfied with the nature and composition of research grant and study awards committees. I feel that the Public Health Service should be commended in the manner in which they have set up these committees and the methods by which they function. It has been very rare that I have heard complaints concerning the action of these committees. I would hope that these methods be continued in the future.-Norman M. Sulkin.
Research grant and study awards committees generally are composed of capable and conscientious individuals. However, these committees do not meet frequently enough, and their review loads are often too heavy for adequate study and decisionmaking. They should meet more frequently and should consider fewer applications at any one time. The study groups could be enlarged to give better geographical coverage. In this way members of the group will have greater opportunity to become acquainted with research workers in all parts of the country. This will tend to facilitate site inspections and reduce the overall cost of such trips.—Thomas T. Tourlentes.
I am satisfied with the nature and composition of research grant and study awards committees.—Arthur C. Upton.
I believe that item 5 is at least partly answered by proceeding comments.—Otto von Mering.
Yes. However, some colleagues have felt that larger committees on which representatives of their research specialty are represented would be even more desirable.-A. Kurt Weiss,
In general, yes.--Frederick L. Weniger.
Yes. In my estimation the study panels and research committees associated with the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation and their respective administrative officers have performed admirably.--Verner J. Wulff.
Question No. 6
Should the Government promote long-range investments in research, in distinction to private foundation promotion? What should be the relationship between governmental and private foundation in vestments in aging research?
Responses Many private foundations are so restricted in geographic area (St. Louis, for example), or in purposes for which grants may be made, or so small in their total holdings that efforts to get grants are discouraging.
I doubt if the Government should promote long-range research. The topics might be long range, but grants should only be given for 1 year at a time, renewable, of course, as long as the scope and standards of work are acceptable.
I see no particular relationship between public and private grants. They even may cover the same general topics (teaching gifted students, infant death rates, or urban tuberculosis rates) but the private funds made available each year, excepting possibly five big ones, are quite inadequate for research in the scope which should be going on now.--Chester Alexander.
My answer to No. 6 is that the Government should promote long-range investments in research and that private foundations should do so also. There could well be cooperation between governmental granting agencies and private foundations in laying out domains to be supported. In my opinion there should be substantial research on the part of the Government in the basic sciences. But the protection of scientists in their intellectual endeavors when funds are under Government auspices presents a real difficulty in view of the fact that "aging" has political and economic significance. At present, many of those who study aging are viewing the same elephant from different angles and reaching different conclusions. Some generalize to all persons over the age of 65 on the basis of
indigent old people, some on the basis of the fairly well-to-do old people, some on the basis of the 5 percent who are in institutions, some on the 95 percent outside, and some generalize with all types of samples in between. Since approximately 10 percent of the total population of the United States is above the age of 65, that is, some 16 million persons, almost any conclusion with regard to aging can be made and can be justified by statistics froin some kind of biased sample.
We cannot depend upon the proponents of programs to put forward the proper statistics, because the person interested in action sees the facts in terms of his action program rather than as a person with a value system that is oriented about the truth or accuracy of knowledge and facts. This is a very difficult problem. In considering the three fields that might be grouped under social science research, we have psychology, particularly in its social aspects, sociology and economics. Within these fields we need the same type of ethical code with regard to information and knowledge that exists in the natural sciences and which produces dedicated man whose first loyalty is to their information, not to the practical implications of their data. Decisions in the practical sense may be made by other types of persons. It must be admitted that in many fields of research where the basic studies are adequately and competently done, the facts almost speak for themselves. Much of our present aging research, in a sense, lacks_the facts that speak for themselves.—John E. Anderson.
I feel that the Government is in a better position to promote long-range investments in research and that it should look forward to doing so.- - Warren Andrew.
I believe that long-range investments in research should be jointly financed by Government and by private foundations. The Government perhaps could buy capital equipment better, however.--Henry H. Banks.
In my opinion, the Government's method of awarding grants is far superior to that of private foundations, both in respect to efficiency and expert guidance. The promotion of long-range investments by the Government would be far better. I do not believe that any formal ties should exist between governmental and private agencies.—Howard B. Bensusan.
The Government should promote long-range investments in research. Most significant old-age research projects need to be long term. It is rare in my experience that private foundations give anything but year-to-year grants, and this makes it difficult to plan a long-term study and gives insecurity to the investigators. Governmental and private foundations should operate separately.Geoffrey H. Bourne.
It appears to me that, in general, governmental promotion of long-range research has been growing and funds from this source should be made more available as institutional funds inevitably decrease. There appears, so far, to have been little so-called political interference in governmentally promoted research.-Clark E. Brown.
Scientific efforts are seriously hampered when they are placed under undue restrictions. For this reason, I believe it is extremely dangerous to formulate too many restricting policies regarding research activities of Government or private foundations. Communication between large granting agencies is essential, but no fixed patterns should be involved. Both private and Government agencies should promote long-range investments in research when they can justify the scientific necessity for such work.-Ewald W. Busse.
I believe the Government must take the major responsibility for financing and promoting research in aging. This does not mean, however, that Government must do the research itself. Private foundation research should be preserved. I feel reasonably certain that there is close and continued exchange of ideas and experience between private foundations and personnel in the National Institutes of Health. This should be continued. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare should undertake periodic discussions with private foundations interested in the field of aging so as to assure an intelligent interchange of ideas, experience, and objectives.-Wilbur J. Cohen.
In my judgment, the sponsorships of research by private foundations should be encouraged. If private support tends to diminish in the course of time, I would hope that governmental support would make up the deficiency.-Eugene A. Confrey.
I think that basic research is going to be more and more the responsibility of Government. This does not mean that Government should attempt to enter every field. Where foundations are already doing basic research Government can utilize their findings in connection with policymaking. However, in my own experience there is little to lead me to the conclusion that those who make up the decisionmaking body of most foundations have any real conception of the nature of basic research in the social sciences. There is rather a concern for immediately applicable results for the direction of current policy. This too is necessary but it means that no single university that I know of has come to be known for its contribution to basic social science research. I realize that it will be as difficult if not more difficult to get politicians to support long-range programs as it is to convince foundation heads. But if we don't undertake it, and stick with it, we will find ourselves supporting a whole series of abortive crash programs whose results cast little or no light upon the central body of theory in the field.Fred Cottrell.
It is greater because most of these part-time workers are not definitely in line for promotion, although they may by their work on projects earn attractive appointments. They are handicapped in the matter of contributary annuities, although there is a move by some foundations and other financing organizations to contribute to their annuity funds during the few years of their temporary appointments. They are handicapped principally in being outsiders in universities where we may expect great developments in this science of gerontology to take place by insiders. Lastly, they cannot enter a university town with the idea of making their homes there. They are in effect “migrant workers.”E. V. Cowdry.
Long-range investments do need to be made by the Government. I do not see why competition with foundations should pose any really difficult problems.Sears Crowell.
To fully understand the aging process requires extensive longitudinal studies which are best supported by Government funds. Foundations are less likely to be a sure source for continuing support over a long period. The private foundation function is and should continue to be the stimulation of new fields and the trial of unusual approaches to the study of new problems. While both Government and private foundations operate in the public trust, Government is more likely to proceed objectively, and is less likely to have a bias in favor of a single point of view.-Wilma Donahue.
It is an essential feature of research financing, especially in the aging field, that support be given for a sufficient period of time to enable the investigator to carry out a penetrating study. Often, this will require a period of several years, and it may be only after numerous disappointments that fruitful results are forthcoming. A review of progress made on the problem should be made at intervals,