CONGRESS DECIDES WE ALREADY KNOW PRETTY MUCH ALL WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEALTH CARE AND SCIENCE
Well, not really, but I do marvel at where their priorities are. Funding to the Framingham Heart Study, one of the most important ongoing epidemiologic studies ever, is going to have its funding cut.
Ever hear of the term “Risk Factor”? Most likely you have (a risk factor being a variable associated with disease or infection, as in, “Not washing hands is a risk factor for getting infectious diarrhea,” or “electing a moronic Congress is a risk factor for bad public policy.”)
What you may not have known was that the term “risk factor” was coined right here in Framingham, coincidentally International Headquarters for PAZ. It turns out that the Framingham Heart Study, a large cohort study that enrolled over 5,000 subjects in 1948 and is now tracking the the third generation of the original subjects, was indeed the originator of what might be the most commonly used epidemiologic phrase in our language. The Framingham Heart Study has published over 1,000 papers on cardiovascular disease. It was where the link between cholesterol and heart disease was found , the correlation between high-density lipoproteins(HDLs ) and lower disease risk was established, and perhaps most importantly, it discovered the connection between cigarettes and heart disease. Things we take for granted now, such as hypertension being controllable and related to heart disease, were completely foreign to medical thinking at the time the study started. The information provided by the Framingham Heart Study has prolonged and improved millions of lives.
Well, if you’ve been paying attention, it will be no surprise to you that this Congress has allowed sequestration and its anti-science attitude to allow funding to be cut to $5 million from $9 million, over 40% of its budget.
Cuts to research don’t just hurt now, but reach far into the future. There are the things we would have known, and the scientists who will not get enough training to become principle investigators.
What’s the answer?
For now, the public (that’s y’all) is going to have to pick up the slack. If we want lives to be saved, including our own, we are going to have to take up where government left off. It’s becoming increasingly that we won’t be able to count on the government to reliably fund health research, or the Invisible Hand, for that matter, especially for health problems that occur in underserved populations. (Libertarians, this is your chance to show how wonderful you are!)
At PAZ, we combine research with intervention. It’s often more appealing to donors to see a child or a village that they are helping. However, without research, we don’t have verification that our methods work, or that they might be repeatable elsewhere.
Now, for the good news:
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