Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Canadian Mathematicians Stand Up for Biomedical Research

G&M reports on an open letter to the Canadian government protesting cuts to science funding in the recent budget, now signed by over 2,000 scientists. Basically the gist is that it's not enough to just fund building construction and PhD scholarships, but that grant money is also needed to RUN actual research programs. So that all those students in all those buildings can actually do something useful. Apparently the effort was initiated by a group of mathematicians led by Nassif Ghoussoub from UBC.

A number of points made in the letter, posted on the website, "Don't Leave Canada Behind". An excerpt:

"Whereas the U.S. administration is proposing to boost the funding of the National Institute of Health (NIH) by 30% ($8.5 billion in addition to its current $29 billion), our “stimulus budget” is cutting CIHR’s by 5%, while essentially ignoring the needs of Genome Canada."

More interesting stuff here re PhD student funding:

"The funding of an additional 500 doctoral scholarships is great news...however, it seems this funding is coming at the expense of the highly qualified personnel (HQP’s) that could have been recruited more efficiently by our senior researchers through their Tri-Council grants. We believe that a more efficient strategy for ensuring a successful HQP policy is to give our leading researchers the flexibility to manage the selection, recruitment, and support of their own graduate students through their peer-reviewed research grants, and via well-established leveraging procedures with the universities and the private sector."

and,

"we also regret that the $17.5-million assigned to SSHRC for graduate scholarships have been earmarked towards students in business and finance."

also,

"President Obama is proposing to double federal funding for education over the next 10 years, and pledging to “restore science to its rightful place” with billions in new investments. To advise his government, he has appointed leading scientists to his cabinet and as his advisors (including a Nobel laureate as energy Secretary). The Obama administration has also involved the directors of NIH and NSF in federal budget discussions about the future of research. We need a similar approach in Canada, where top research scientists and humanists can help shape directions in Ottawa for research funding."

Interesting. Will it have any impact?