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Monday, August 30, 2010

NIDA Funded ARRA Grant Wasteful Spending?

In a continuation of a theme discussed in my August 20 posting on how politics and scientific research policy sometimes interact, thanks go out to Ken Grasing for alerting the CPDD membership via the Listserv about the congressional oversight report sponsored by Senators McCain and Coburn (a physician) calling a NIDA-funded ARRA grant wasteful.

This is what their report, entitled "Summertime Blues", said:

"Researchers at Wake Forest University think that, in at least one case, it is good to monkey around with stimulus dollars. The Department of Health and Human Services has sent $144,541 to the Winston-Salem college to see how monkeys react under the influence of cocaine. The project, titled “Effect of Cocaine Self-Administration on Metabotropic Glutamate Systems,” would have the monkeys self-administer the drugs while researchers monitor and study their glutamate levels. When asked how studying drug-crazed primates would improve the national economy, a Wake Forest University Medical School Spokesman said, “It's actually the continuation of a job that might not still be there if it hadn't been for the stimulus funding. And it’s a good job.” He added, “It’s also very worthwhile research.”

Congressional candidates such as Frank Guinta, who is campaigning for a New Hampshire Congressional seat, have called out this grant for elimination as part of his election platform.

As Ken noted in his Listserv email, Alan Leshner, former NIDA Director and current Chief Executive Officer of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), replied to the McCain/Coburn report in an opinion piece written for Politico by calling it a "...cheap shot at important research critical to finding medications for cocaine addiction."

Based on the rhetoric used by Senators McCain and Coburn ("...drug-crazed primates...") and by candidate Guinta ("...We’re using federal stimulus money to watch what happens when monkeys get high...") to describe this research, it seems like some politicians and political candidates have targeted this project and perhaps addiction research in general in their crosshairs.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.

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