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Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007 | As a biomedical research scientist at the Salk Institute for more than 30 years before retiring as Director of the Cancer biology laboratory, all my funding was for peer-reviewed projects. In the biomedical field, earmarking was inevitably for cancer centers and research programs unable to compete successfully in the peer review system. Even in situations where a university claims to have a unique resource such as those described for the UCSD Jacob’s School of Engineering, peer review would determine the priority of this research versus other scientific uses for the funding.
Deans and administrators love earmarking because it is an easy source of funding requiring only that the institution maintains a good relationship with a local politician adept at bringing home the pork.
In the present abysmal science funding climate, generated by the Bush Administration’s focus on funding the Iraq war and homeland security, many young scientists will be forced to give up research or move to other countries. Under these circumstances, it becomes essential to use what little funding is left for biomedical research for the very best science identified by peer review.