On The Porousness Of Borders

(Apologies for the delay)

In the April 10 edition of Science, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins and Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci wrote an editorial on where the research their Institutes support (and conduct) takes place.  The point of the editorial comes early:

“Now, in the face of serious fiscal constraints, the idea has reemerged from some congressional leaders and disease constituency groups to more closely align NIH funding for disease research with disease burden in the United States.”

Consider this the biomedical equivalent of Congressional efforts to ensure that National Science Foundation research is targeted to areas that advance the national interest.

Fauci and Collins write about why focusing research strictly on the United States is problematic.  It reminds us that one of the tools the United States uses in its foreign policy is public health.  And while they don’t mention it in the piece, disease does not respect national borders.  So while you could capture what diseases are affecting Americans at one point in time for the purposes of determining funding, that snapshot would soon be out of date.  And our public health infrastructure would suffer as a result.

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