tv Federal Funding for Scientific Research CSPAN October 20, 2017 4:34pm-5:39pm EDT
now a senate homeland security security committee on federal funding for scientific research. senator rand paul calls for greater transparency in federally funded research, and they said federally funded for scientific research in the future. this is an hour. i want to thank everybody for rushing here, and we have to go and vote. we are going to be efficient and
get to it and have a good discussion. today we are going to look at the federal government's role in funding research. i am concerned the government system of supporting research and is inefficient and often incentivizes the wrong things which leads to bad science and wasted taxpayer dollars. we've posted examples like this national science foundation study which had money being spent on ugandan gambling habits and we do it year after year. senator langford found investigating if kids don't like food that has been sneezed on. are you more or less likely to eat the food in the buffet line if someone sneezes on it. and who could forget the shrimp found on the treadmill. i remember as a kid in the 1970s seeing senator william describe
wastes such as this as he gave his golden fleece awards and here we are still with the same kind of questions 40 years later. part of the problem is the old addage, public or perish. researchers that publish are more likely to get funding. so how do unique projects get funded? some can say who should review and make recommendations on their grant. so the people getting the money can recommend who approves giving them the money. that's right researchers get to pick who gives them the funding. doesn't sound very objective. some recommend reviewers who
will be championing for your work. while they suggest disqualifying those with scientific disagreement with you. so we say find people to agree with you and get them on the committee. if you know anyone who already disagrees with you, keep them off the committee. this is baking in bias and it's unacceptable. and downstream funding or taking original grant money and giving it to other researchers for projects not consistent with the original grant. the federal government gives money who gives it to someone else who may give it to a third or fourth party. none of this is published in public data bases. one example was a stud ate that its intent was what makes for the perfect first date? the original grant to study how scientists collaborate on scientific research.
so they were going to study collaboration on scientific research and somehow got to what makes for a perfect first date. it's difficult to discover how much they cost. so my bill would require all subgrants be fully reported, approved and made public. we found many grants are issued for rational but broad research subjects and then used for ridiculous ancillary projects. one took money to study drug and alcohol abuse and then published a paper on how to pick the best wines for your pallet. i'm sure it must have been interesting to the journal editors. so our bill insures we're spending our money wisely. why should we do this? we spend 700 billion more than we take in and we have a $20
trillion debt. it's inexcusable to not pay attention to how we spend it and a taxpayer advocate that can report to congress about such follies. our bill also requires that committees reviewing grants for at least one researcher from a scientific field to further remove personal bias. the idea is to have a scientist from important areas of research such as cancer, diabetes sit in on review committees that would review grants for wine tasting. maybe someone would say we have a lot of people with heart disease. maybe the shrimp on a treadmill is not something we have to study or maybe the money could be better spent somewhere else. the last problem i'll discuss is replicatability.
an increasing body of work shows that the study cannot be duplicated by other scientists to produce statistically similar results. that's a major problem. it goes back to the issue of publishing. journal readers and editors don't get excited about negative results, so the bias is towards funding studies that prove a premise as opposed to those that disprove a premise. my bill would create greater transparency through the whole process so taxpayers will know exactly how their money is being used. this will allow the scientific community and public at large to review taxpayer funded research. hopefully this will detour study manipulation to prove hypothesis.
some will say the general public doesn't understand science. but i don't think you need a ph.d. to understand people are less likely to choose food that's been sneezed on and they don't want that kind of research either. >> thank you, chairman paul for holding this hearing today and i'd like to join chairman paul in thanking our witnesses for taking the time to be with us here today. i look forward to hearing your testimony. one of the essential tasks is to engage in honest evaluations of the public investments we make as a nation and whether or not these investments are indeed worth while. this is a responsibility for the taxpayer that i take seriously, and i'm grateful to have an opportunity to do so in a collaborative bipartisan way. we're here today to discuss federal funding for scientific research which i believe remains a necessary investment in our future.
it's the seed corn of innovation and new discoveries and it's led to discoveries that have had profound impacts on public health, safety and our quality of life. federally funded research has resulted in widespread adoption of technologies. gps satellites, mri imaging and inhuman genoem project. this results in economic growth and leads to the creation of 10s of thousands of jobs in entirely new sectors of the economy. it inspires the next generation to believe the sky is the limit and that no challenge is impossible. even as the share of federal investment remains at a historic low as a percentage of gross domestic product, supporting federally funded research remains as important as ever to maintain america's competitive edge. targeted federal investments in leadership can accelerate and
encourage private sector innovation that might not have otherwise occurred. we should recognize the federal and private contributions to the development enterprise are not perfect substitutes for one another. but instead work in tandem working in different stages in the r and, d cycle. last week i was proud to present bipartisan legislation known as the american innovation and competitiveness act which was signed into law in january of this year. the bill was a product of a year-long effort that began with a series of round table discussions with representatives from science, education, business and economic development communities on how to improve the american research and innovation ecosystem. our legislation reauthorized a number of important programs that strengthened innovation and advanced manufacturing, grow our
skilled workforce and enhance american competitiveness around the world. it included a number of provisions aimed at reducing regulatory and administrative burdens on researchers so they can spend more of their time on research and less on paperwork. our bill also reaffirmed the merit review process that guides funding decisions and insures research proposals are judged on the merits by peers in the scientific community and without bias. while certain basic research projects that receive federal funding have silly sounding titles, further examination may reveal the true scientific merit and potential broader impacts of that work. before a proposal gets one penny of funding, reviewers have to consider it based on criteria that include whether the proposal increases economic competitiveness, and
advanced health and welfare or supports the national defense. it's worth noting only one in five proposals receive nsf funding at all, or that it's required to justify to the public why these proposals were lucky enough to see funding. it can be hard to quantify or predict exactly where the science will lead. rather than inject politics, our discussion showed instead concentrate how to safeguard discovery inherent in scientific discovery while making sure funding remains fully available to taxpayers. part of the solution may lie in breaking down barriers rather than remain insconsed in the ivory tower.
the discussion today is an important one. our country faces critical environment and economic challenges in the years ahead. but we must not shy away from them head on and leveraging our research enterprise to create a better tomorrow. thank you for your time today. i look forward to the discussion. >> thank you, senator peters. with that i'll begin by introducing our first witness. brian knowsic. he's the co founder and executive director for the center of open science at the university of virginia. he hold as ph.d. from yale and is profession of psychology at the university of virginia. we're happy to have you here and get your thoughts on these critical issues. >> chairman paul, ranking member peters, on behalf of myself and the center for open science, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the it funding of scientific research to maximize
the return on those investments. science may be humanities most important long-term investment. science may be humanities most important long-term investment, and the effort to accumulate knowledge has profound consequences of the well-being of american society. some of the impact are directly anticipated in the project aims. but much of the impact is indirect. research often leads to unexpected insights. and these unexpected direction kz produce returns many orders of magnitude larger than the investment. there are opportunities to nurture the incentive in science. in 2002 i became a professor that university of virginia. my group does fundamental research on cognition, thoughts and feelings that occur outside
of conscious awareness or conscious control, and my lab has had federal support from nih and nsf. since 2013 i've been on extended leave from the university because a graduate student and i started the senter for open science. it has a mission to increase openness of research and has received support from nsf, darpa and iarpa. transparency and reproducibility are core values of science. when i make a claim, you can believe it based on my authority as an expert or how confident i seem but these are not sufficient for scientific claims. i need to show you how i arrived at the claim. by showing you, you can make an independent assessment. you might recognize a flaw, think of an alternative
interpretation or have an idea of how to extend what i died learn more. moreover, by sharing how i arrived at that claim i give you the opportunity to reproduce the evidence. if you can independently obtain similar results then our confidence in the claim increases. the reason for the center of open science's existence is the culture for scientists sometimes undercuts the core values of transparency and reproducibility. the culture rewards novel, positive, clean results and there are few incentives for being open or reproducable. as a consequence we may be producing exciting results at the cost of credibility of those results. and some evidence presents it's
lower than desirable than expected. federal research funding agencies only have taken initial steps to address it. if transparency and reproducibility are discovery and ultimately even greater returns on taxpayer dollars. i will close with a specific suggestion they could use to help firther the scientific research and that is to set the default to open for papers, data and materials. in 2013 federal agencies were asked to make a plan for improving the management and accessibility for the research they fund. most agencies have completed this work. congress could take the next logical step and require each nunding agency to be made publicly accessible by default
upon publication of the findings or completion of the grant period. changing the default from closed to open would alter cultural expectations. instead of generating reasons to share data, researchers would need to provide justification for delay due to proprietary or privacy concerns. public investment in science leads to solutions, cures and entirely unexpected advancements. changing the default to open for scientific research data would transform science, dramatically increase the roi and accelerate progress. this is not a difficult proposition but it does require a mandate. this one action would dramatically increase benefit from science. thank you members of the committee for the opportunity to speak to you today. >> thank you. our next wednesday is terrence keely a senior research fellow at kato institute.
prior to joining kato in 2014 served as president of the university of bucking ham. the only university in britain to be financially independent from the government and author of "the economic laws of scientific research." he holds an md from university of london and an hpd from oxford. during his laboratory career, he focused on inflammatory skin conditions. look forward to your opening statement. >> thank you very much for having invited me. i'm very glad to be speaking after dr. nosek. because in a sense, my five minutes is about addressing situation where we got to when the search became so important. in my testimony i provide the evidence and with great respect to senator peters, i have to say there is, i'm afraid simply no evidence that economic growth or
technological growth that leads into economic growth is in any way benefitted by the federal funding of science. it is widely believed the government should fund science. it's based on the model of what science is i regret is unscientific and in my testimony i hope i've shown clearly that in this government and no other government needs it for economic reasons. i'm not going to revisit it. i'm going to accept that's what governments do. they fund science and what they do in consequence is they impose a particular model on science, which is called the linear model, which is actually has a history of 400 years. it was first prescribed by frances bacon 400 years ago in england and the model says, very
much as senator peters suggested and dr. nosic is you need a group of scientists doing pure research in universities and similar research institutions where they're free to follow their own curiosity and where the science takes them and as a consequence of that knowledge leaks out to the rest of the world and is then turned into technological and other forms of sociaological advance. that is not how science happens in the free market. in the market, scientists who are embedded with companies and industry are embedded tightly with technologists, even marketing. they're part of a commercial enterprise. the result therefore is that there are two ways of judging scientists. in industry, scientists are ultimately judged by their
technology. how does a research ultdly lead to technology that doesn't benefit of course the company and to the stockholders, but to society at large that way. as daniel of university of arizona said in a very influential essay last year, it's technology that keeps science honest, but the government funding of science makes scientists answerable not to technology, not to stockholder, but to fellow scientists and that leads directly to the two problems that paul indicateded. first, the problem with peer review is you end up with a group of people all agreeing with each other and whatever paradigm they wish to support. often unconsciously, scientists are profoundly honest people, but they have their own interests and spothing paradigms that if they were tested against the technological market, would never have survived as they do survive in the academic world.
such an example might be the 40-year history of governments telling us not to eat fat which is based on a group of scientists telling another group of scientists they shouldn't and them agreeing with each other. it was of course wrong. the other problem is they're not judged by what they achieve, they're judged by the number of papers they're published and what journals they're published in. scientists are not judged by what they achieve, they're judged by what they write and the consequence of that is that scientists are encouraged to do the sort of things as produce papers that are not easily reproduced. and the reason is the bench mark for success is having the paper accepted, not making an important advance for humanity.
so to conclude this country has engaged since 1950, when the nsf was created in an interesting experiment of the federal government funding science. it's had had no impact on fundamental rates of growth. it's created a niche where it's proliferated and the question should be whether government should be funding science at all. >> thank you. >> i have the privilege to introduce a fellow michiganer. dr. rebecca cunningham, who is representing not only the state of michigan, baugh great american university. the university of michigan. we're blessed with a number of great universities in our state, but it's great to have dr. cunningham here.
she is the associate vice president for health science research for the department of emergency medicine and professor in health behavior and health education at the um school of public health. dr. cunningham has a very distinguished career focussed on public health interventions in health settings such as the emergency department. her past clinical trials have been in the energy room using technology to yore come barriers to reaching youth, to prevent alcohol and prescription opioid misuse. this is a matter of great interest to this committee. her federally funded research over the last 18 years has focussed on improving the health of children, young adults and those seeking emergency health services. she started her career as an attending physician in flint, michigan.
thank you, dr. cunningham, for your service and for testifying here today and representing us all very well. >> thank you for that introduction. good afternoon, chairman paul, ranking member peters and members of the subcommittee. thank you for inviting me to speak. i want to give special thanks to ranking member peters on securing the american innovation and competitiveness act which serves to fund the enterprise i'm here to talk to you today. our great nation is what it is today because of the federal investments in research. our economy is strong because of these investments and our top research institutions are the envy of the world because of these investments. this investment has supportd and must continue to support basic research along applied research
of engineering. it's the sea to innovations like self-driving cars and life saving drugs. without federal research investments to understand basic scientific, engineers may never have designed what make the ipad a ground breaking device. innovations that our imaginations cannot always comprehend. i have seen the benefits first hand. as an emergency physician i've seen the success of drugs and medical technologies that allow patients to walk out of the hospital today that would have died while i was a medical student. i've sat with the spouse, parents and children to those who have fall b victim to opioid overdose in our nation. over the past 20 years, i our research team and lab have worked to develop -- impacked by
substance abuse or trauma who flood our emergency rooms and such research has prevented many more from needing our care. for example i am partnering with scientists and community leaders to address the opioid epidemic effecting every community across our nation. translating the underlying science into policy solution relies on fundamental research from synthetic chemistry to neuroscience funded by the nih. policies and medical breakthroughs will lead to the solutions that we can't yet imagine but need for the opioid crisis. federal support for research has been part of our country's fabric dating backing to the 1700s. in the past 70 years alone, the role in game changing interventions has been tremendous. for example the development of the gps, the visible led. the technology behind the mri machine.
all have their roots in federal investments in public sector researchers. federal investments in research also help drive our economy and train our future stem work force. there are 444 new inventions last year and 12 start up companies launched based on technologies developed by our researchers. it supports local economies by providing billions each year to vendors from small businesses to bio tech companies making devices, software and other equipment needed to perform our research. in the past 15 years vendor spending at the university of michigan has created 221,000 manufacturing jobs and 641,000 health care jobs. this investment supports thousands of employees working in laboratories and research institutions across the country. many of whom, the largest recipients by far, are students. it's them that will shape competitiveness in the future
and lead many of the industries that will take us to success. in many cases declining funding rates have already shown impacts on our scientific talent pipeline. driving away the next generation of leaders and innovators from careers and research. this decline happened while other countries are doubling down on their efforts to become global leaders. indeed several metrics already show the u.s. is losing ground to countries like china. this trend will only continue at our current level of research investment and the consequences will effect the american economy as well as our national security. we need to lead in innovation, science and a group of leaders recognize it's critical in driving productivity and
economic growth. for example, heeders signed a statement which was a call to action for federal funding increases in basic scientific research. thank you again for this opportunity to discuss the importance of federal investments and research. i'd be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you all for your testimony. i was intrigued, dr. kealey your sort of compare and contrast to how industry works verses how we judge science and universities. it says technology keeps scientists honest. >> in a journal it's a very good article. >> okay. but i was intrigued by how technology keeps scientists honest and it has to work. may sit around, but it's interesting because the people on the left say we'll never get any basic science research and all these things where you know
people put something old in the dish and discover pkovcover pin. we have corning who's been famous for developing practical uses of science. they developed something in the '60s, gorilla glass. didn't have a use for it for 50 years, but they kept it in their files and patented it. it's dwlasz on your cell phone. so i think serendipity and things can come from industry as well. in contrasting that to university where your reward is not because your science produces economic growth or value to society but how many times it's published and in what journals. in looking at this contrast,
what do you think of the other side's arguments where they say we won't get research, all these clever little things that just happen to turn up from being curious if we had science led by technology and industry. >> well, it's a myth. industry is very generous towards basicing science. but the real -- because of course industry needs basic science. but the real lesson is historical. despite dr. cunningham's statement that the federal government has supported science throughout the history of the republic. as recent as 1940 government was only funding 20% of r & d. you got to look at some of the senate records even to taking the money to the smithsonian institution which was opposed by a number of senators to realize how long the suspicion has been of american funding of science by the federal government. nsf was created as part of the
truman doctrine. it was truman deciding he was going to forget george washington's statement of no foreign entanglements. america was not going to get involved with foreign entanglements which meant he needed defense research. are all that happens as a consequence was crowding out. when the state funds something, the private sector withdraws. dr. coning hm points out that companies like government funding. of course they do. it's the phenomenon that explains why there's no evidence anywhere that government funding of science has produced economic growth. industry cannot exist without pure science and it funds it generously. >> senator, peters. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
dr. cunningham, i would like you to expound on some o the points you made. we know the scientific enterprise and ability to advance scientific knowledge is a complex ecosystem and it's not mutual ll lly exclusive. it's about the interaction between all of these entities working together and churning the innovation that koms out of the scientific enterprise. so in my mind there's a role for federal research, certainly private industry is a big part of it. in fact most is done with private industry today. but i'd like you to speak from your own experience. can you provide an example that would not have been done if not for a federal investment. >> sure. thank you. so a lot of the work that we've done has been looking at ways that we can get ad lessants and
teenagers at risk to make safer decisions and be safer after leaving the emergency department. that's not the type of research that typically would be of interest to industry. the industry is of tremendous help and that type of prevention work is critical to our public safety, public health and eventually, hopefully into the opioid epidemic that we face. >> so it's not something you'd see pharmaceutical companies doing. >> that type of work is not done by pharmaceutical companies. >> i also know the university of michigan, from my own personal experience is an incredible engine of economic growth in our state and in no part -- or no small part because of the tremendous research being done at the university as well as other great universities that spread out. so considering your role in the office of research, could you provide examples of basic
research at the university of michigan that has led to economic growth. >> yes. thank you. yes. the university of michigan, there's tremendous spillover throughout the state. first of all, i can say as i mentioned, the 444 new inventions last year and 12 new start up companies in technologies based on our researchers, a new start up u happens about every four weeks out of the university research line. recently a company was created by university of michigan scientists who were studying foundational questions around brain waves. they've then gone on to develop a cap that can make things move by wearing the cap that's really in its early stages right now but came from . foundational research and
science. i think also the spill over effects in terms of training can't be over looked. a researcher that went on to become part of samsung's screens which has impacted our economy and influenced national security and importantly to think about is while that research was doing the fed rel funded research, they taught 350 ph.d. students. they were trained with this foundational research. that type of spill over effect is really critical. when we talk about benefits to the economy, it's important to think about that type of linear model has been rethought more recently by many scholars in terms of an innovation echo system. we don't see it anymore as a linear model of pure science happening at the institutional level that eventually trickles down in a linear way.
instead we see this almost tire track model where there's a lot of interaction back and forth, even at early levels between basic scientists and industry and basic scientists and the public sector and they inform each other and train each other and in the end we have a an innovation ecosystem that is stronger and i think other academics have seen we can do better moving this pipeline down the road faster. the university of michigan has what's called the clinical transitional science award program, which is steined specifically to take early stage work and help investigators move it quicker down a pipeline by connecting basic scientists who often can't speak outside of their field because they're very much experts in a familiar field
with folks who have applied and practice and industry work to be able to have that interaction happen faster and really be sinnsin jestic. >> partially in response to criticism from members of congress about silly sounding research grants. we heard some examples of those today. the had nsf issued guidance on how to write titles and -- and explain in a nontechnical manner. this change may seem insignificant but it underscores the importance of the scientific community and the general public and certainly reminding americans that scientific innovation and verge and benefits benefits the whole country in many ways. i'm curious about the panel's thoughts about what scientists can do to better communicate the importance of their research to the public and to dispel some of
these misconceptions and silly sounding research. i'll start with you, dr. cunningham, then i think we'll have time for dr. nosek. >> i think we all have responsibility to communicate our science better. although the silly sounding science may be difficult to understand, the ultimate meaning behind we're responsible for communicating better. there's a number of ways that can happen. our cdc center that i currently direct takes each of our science publications that comes out pairing scientists with nonscientists to help create one-page sheets that can be easily understood on what it is we're doing and how that might inform our public practice and health. there are a number of programs like that.
a science policy fellows program that is working to engage scientists and communicating that information better to the public. >> thank you. we're going to go to senator harrison. senator harris. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'll tell you this issue is very personal to me. my mother was a scientist. she advised nih. she did her research at a number of places but most recently before her passing, u.c. berkeley, she maintained a lab for years. my first job was cleaning pipets in her lab. i was awful. she fired me but there you go. and being from california we take a certain level of pride perhaps in please forgive any bravado but google's search engine, its foundational tool came from federally funded research at stanford.
the nicotine patch that has helped millions of people quit smoking came from federally funded research at ucla. augmented reality military training from usc. the hepatitis b vaccine from federally funded research at ucsf and image sensory technology which is in our cell phones from federally funded research at cal tech. so i add that list to the list of those discoveries that you, dr. cunningham have outlined. and my question then is as we recognize all of that, can you also talk a bit about the concern that many of us have that were it not for federally funded research, the research that would be conducted would be motivated by what is profitable and not necessarily what impacts the largest number of people? and in particular my concern is for cures that we need for rare diseases as an example.
those diseases that may impact a few number of people. and so the benefit will be to a few number of people and therefore will not necessarily be capable of being marketed and purchased by a lot of people. what can you talk and say about that concern? and i'll use as examples of those kinds of diseases that impact specific racial or ethnic groups, anything from sickle cell to lupus. >> thank you for asking that question. so it's really important that the research that's funded by the federal government often has a long timeline to showing result.
so that shorter timeline, which is really important to industry and to funded industry funded studies is not going to be profitable as you say for these rare diseases or for diseases that there prevention focussed or on a greater public good necessarily but won't show an immediate public retrp on investment. that's the kind of investment that federal research has shown to be able to do to invest in things that maybe curiosity driven at this time but might lead to an end result which is a cure for a rare disease. i'd like the example of the honey bees which is a silly sounding science study that was done by nsf which scientists were looking into how honey bees found their nectar in a hive and why that would be relevant and that was funded many years ago. later on that went on to give the answers on how to do web algorithms for the internet. so the kind of basic science research that might be funded now might be what helps the cure
20 years from now and that's not anything anyone in the room would cure that public disease. >> and you mentioned return on investment. so there are a lot of experts that i've read who talk about every dollar invested in bio medical research funding, for every dollar the economy gains roughly $2. for example the united states invested 3.8 billion in the human genome project which resulted in nearly $1 trillion in ecnmic growth which is a 178/1 return on investment. so these types of federal r & d investments do support the economy. can you explain why the private sector might not be willing to put an investment on projects that government has funded? >> so the concern is nih supports over 180,000 jobs and generates 65 billion in economic
activity. i see my time is running short and we have to take a vote. so perhaps we can talk about that in the continuing conversation. i yield to my call caneges. >> thank you and thanks to all of you. as we go through some of the research i'm not opposed to research and i'm grateful every time i pick up my cell phone or go to a doctor's office for research in the past. the question is federally funded research,side the information be transparent and available to anyone else, how quickly does that get out? the diversity of the selection
teams, if that ends up being the same teams over and over again directing funds and the national benefit of that. as senator peters mentioned there are times i look at studies, studies about people sneezing on a child's food and are they more or less likely to take that? i can go to other studies. nsf funded a study on the connection between religion and politics in cemeteries in iceland. nsf also did a study on 500-year-old fish bones to study social structures in tanzania. there was a study done on senior dating habits. on how likely seniors are to date and what their preferences are in dating. senior dating may be fascinating research but i'm not necessarily assured it's federally necessary. lots of other folks may as a way
to partner up seniors but is that a national priority? the questions i have circle around how we're doing selections of this, who's doing the selection of the funding and what is fundamental research and what should be applied research and is the federal government really focusing on fundamental research. my first question deals with this issue of who's making the decision when the grants come? i've talked to researchers at university who say i write for the exact same research to apply to nih, i write it another way to get a grant from nsf and i don't care where i get the funding from but i write the grant in a way they want me to and then i'll target my research based on whoever will give me the dollars for it. that to me is a red flag. i understand if you get an nih grant, you have to tell nsf. but if you're applying for both simultaneously, they don't know what the other is getting.
let's start with the basics. the decision of how a grant is done. these decision making boards. is there diversity in the boards? do they transition and change over? or the same people doing approvals consistently and what follow-up happens from there? anybody can take that if they choose to. >> thank you, senator langford for the question. i can't speak to the details of how reviews happen across the various agencies except for having been myself on both sides of it, having been a reviewer of grants and having been a submitter of grants and in the context of that experience, the deciding to -- agreeing to be a reviewer of a grant, the first step that i go through is to assess from the initial information they provide whether i have the qualifications to review it at all. and if i were to make a wild guess and look at the grants,
probably 90% of them, i wouldn't feel like i have to competence to review them myself. there's just too much information that is deft information that i don't have. insight for how it is to evaluate that. the second challenge of the points you are mentioning relating to how the grants are characterized, and senator paul mentioned this as well is a critical one. it's easy to see the title of a grant as indicating something absurd, like scientists wanted to study shrimp on a treadmill? what were they thinking in deciding that was a reasonable research question. the challenge, and this is one i think senator -- dr. cunningham was correct is the translation challenge that researchers need to do better at. it starts with a theoretical interest, a question of principles. i don't know the shrimp example. but i imagine just guessing it was researchers interested in
biomechanics. how it is that biomechanics work in some way. so they had to how do we operationalize that theoretical question into something meaningful to test. it's the operationalization that is often very apparent and easy to misunderstood as something silly when it's actually testing something deeper. and that deeper question, the theoretical question i think researchers need to do a much better job of surfacing as the point of the research so that taxpayers can recognize what the value is. >> let me make a quick point on this. i would love to be able to work in a bipartisan way on this. because thing is a lot of common agreement on this. science that is paid for by federal fax dollars should not be retained by individuals saying i'm going to hang on the that. if it was done for the public good, it should be available for the public. i think that is a given. that's not always so at this point there should be diverse selection teams. if it's the same team they're going to select the same type of research year after year from
the same universities year after year. if you're one of the universities that benefits from, that you'll want the universities to stay status quo. i think we need to make sure it actually has a national benefit in its fundamental research, not something that doesn't have national benefit. i think we can find agreement on that. and i would love to be able to finish that work. >> quick comment. there is a possibility these studies are not silly and we need better titles so they're not silly. or there is a possibility there is silly. tasting wine, studying alcoholism and tasting wine, silly. sneezing on food, should we eat it? silly. it's not the problem with the title translating good research into a bad title. maybe the research shouldn't be done. senator hassan?
>> thank you very much, mr. chair and to our ranking members as well. and thank you, witnesses, for being here. and i apologize because as soon as i get done asking question, i think we're all going to bolt. and i apologize for that. but we've got to vote. so look, and i'll just make a quick comment as well. i still remember one of the early public health challenges i dealt with in public life was the onset of triple e, which is a kind of mosquito-borne illness that is rare but happened to occur in my portion of my state of new hampshire when i was in the state senate. and there wasn't any private sector interest in developing a vaccination for eee because it is so rare that the investment in doing it wouldn't be paid back in any way given the rarity of the disease. and so i watched constituents deeply debilitated by this disease and who lost their lives to this disease in part because there was no economic incentive for developing the kind of treatment. so i think it's really important to remember the public purpose. i did to that point want to ask dr. cunningham a question based on your testimony. you discussed your personal experiences dealing with the heroin and opioid epidemic, an epidemic having a devastating impact on communities in new hampshire and across the
country. i'd like to highlight the important connection you made in your testimony between addressing the epidemic and federally funded research. another example comes once again from my home state of new hampshire. in order to fight this epidemic, it's critical that we understand the current trends of the crisis across the united states. the national drug early warning system is an important system that helps us monitor emerging drug trends to enable health experts, researchers, and concern canned citizens across the country to respond quickly to potential outbreaks. this surveillance system is supported by grants from the national institute on drug abuse. last year, the national drug early warning system released a critical report based on research conducted by dr. lisa marsh at dartmouth as well as new hampshire public health
experts at hida and the state office of the chief medical examiner. this report brings us closer to understanding the patterns, causes, and effect of heroin, fentanyl and opioid misuse in our communities. and it's my understanding that nih and the national institute on drug abuse are expanding their funding for additional research in new hampshire to continue to help improve our response to this epidemic. dr. cunningham, do you agree that this kind of federal funding is critical to help public health researchers such as yourself determine how we can best respond to the ongoing substance misuse crisis? >> thank you for the question. the federal research is completely critical. we have a horrific epidemic on our hands with opioid and heroin overdose. before we throw and waste federal dollars at programs that may or may not work, we need to understand which programs are actually going to make a difference and decrease and save lives. deal with that by vigorous
behavioral research being done by nida and cdc and aaa that are well designed and reinterviewed our peers with very diverse panels of people from all across the country to try to understand how those are going to be best solutions. so eventually when we then go to implement the solutions into local communities with local values, we know that they'll work. and we'll know that those solutions that we're throwing out there won't actually do harm because they haven't been rigorously tested by scientists. thank you. >> well, thank you very much. and in the interests of getting us to our vote, i'll conclude. thanks. thank you again, witnesses. >> thank you. senator peter do, you have a statement you would like to make? okay. well, thanks, everybody, for appearing. i apologize a little bit for the rush to schedule. but we never know when we're going to vote until about 20 minutes before we vote, and we have a series of votes coming up i think the testimony was good. from my point of view, i would just say that we do have a problem, and we need to admit we have a problem. it's nato we don't have silly research going on. we do have silly research going on. it's not just the title. and cleverly changing the title
to obscure the silliness of the project won't make it any less silly. what we need to do is have less silly research so we take our precious dollars that we have and they're spent more wisely. i think if we look at the way they're approved, i think we ought to consider that you shouldn't get to pick the people approving your money. that makes obvious sense to me. i can't imagine how anybody would think that the person applying for a grant should get to pick the people on the committee or have any influence on the committee. i also personally think that there should be people on the committee who have nothing to do with that subject, who are well-intentioned people educated now understand a scientific project being explained to them, but have no dog in that fight. they're not going to have to turn around next week and ask for approval from the same people on these committees. it's this circle of back and forth. i think really we need some people independent. i'd put a taxpayer advocate on the committees. i'd put a scientist not involved
with that research on the committee. so there is a lot of things we could do. but the bottom line is, what william proxmire pointed out in the 1970s, the golden research for the crazy research, sneezing on food, senior dating, gambling in uganda, just bizarre stuff that everybody agrees the government shouldn't fund. let's don't say that it's not silly. it is silly. let's quit doing it and let's fix it. because i tell you, the danger is if i don't fix it and you're part of the receiving folks in this branch of government, this fourth branch of government, there is going to be a day in which people are going to get mad and there not going to be any more money. people are going to get mad and finally say enough is enough. so if you like the gravy train, i'd recommend that we fix it so we aren't funding really crumby research. i think it's still out there. it may be the exception rather than the rule. but there is enough of it that every year we come up with dozens of them. i would suggest that the scientific community needs to get together and admit that we have a problem and fix it. thank you, all.
the remarks from janet yellen, with president trump yesterday will speak at a national economist club dinner. our live coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. eastern on cspan. tomorrow, president trump and five form er presidents take pat in the deep from the heart hurricane relief concert happening on the campus of texas a&m university. watch that live saturday night beginning at 8:45 p.m. eastern
time on cspan. a programming note. watch all of these events online at cspan.org or listen using our free cspan radio a p pp. >> this weekend on book tv on cspan 2. saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. former vice president al gore looks at the effects of climate change around the world with his book an inconvenient sequel, truth to power. >> and we in our civilization, not me, but the technologists and engineers, are learning how to manage atoms and molecules with same precision demonstrated to manage bits of information. co 2 emissions globally have stabilized for the last four years. starting a downward trend. and we are going to win this. but the remaining question is whether we will win it in time.
to reduce the risk to an acceptable level that we will cross some point of no return and it's a dangerous race between hope and the catastrophic consequences we're creating. >> on sunday at 5:30 p.m. eastern. an awe discussion on political diversity and free speech on college campuses with sam abe rams of sarah lawrence kornlg. mark lula, april kelly and knave yan strauszen. >> so i don't want to demonize and disparage these programs. what's positive? they are passionately committed to social justice and racial justice so i want to thank them for that. but i would love to have the opportunity to persuade them
that freedom of speech, especially for the thought that we hate is their most sociessen ally. >> for more of this weekend's schedule, go to booktv.org. cspan, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, cspan was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. that is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. dur david shula ken testified about preventing veteran suicide recently. he said it is his top priority and outlined efforts to improve mental health access. he noted that the va has a problem with recruiting mental health professionals and