...The priorities of the National Institutes of Health(NIH) in the area of bacteriology have been “catastrophically re-ordered” by emphasizing bioweapons research over non-bioweapons research, a prominent authority states.
Giving priority to bioweapons research at NIH, started under the Bush Administration and continuing under President Obama, “diverts resources from critical public-health and scientific objectives,” says Richard Ebright, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
“The negative impact has been most severe in bacteriology, in which NIH research priorities have been catastrophically re-ordered---with research on bacterial bioweapons receiving more support than research on the top five bacterial causes of death combined---and in which non-bioweapons research has suffered catastrophic losses in resources and personnel,” Ebright said.
Ebright cited the examples of research into two bacterial pathogens: “Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, which claim 40,000 and 20,000 U.S. lives each year, respectively. Each kills more Americans than HIV-AIDS (15,000 U.S. lives) “but neither of these bacterial pathogens is on the list of NIAID Priority Pathogens,” Ebright pointed out. (NIAID, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the subdivision of NIH responsible for infectious-disease research.)
“These two killer bacterial pathogens are not in NIAID’s ‘Category A’, with the anthrax bacterium and the smallpox virus, or even in NIAID’s ‘Category B’ or ‘Category C,’" Ebright says. “Something is wrong---very wrong---when NIAID fails to prioritize the top infectious cause of U.S. death,” he said in an email to this reporter.
Other top bacterial causes of U.S. deaths include Enterococcus faecium/faecalis, Clostridium difficile, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. “Of these, only the last is on the NIAID Priority Pathogens list and this pathogen is only in Category C,” Ebright said.
Asked “What is the mood of the scientific life sciences community at this time toward the Administration?” Ebright responded, “Hopeful expectation” but “growing concern that, thus far, there has been more continuity [from the Bush Administration] than change...”
The Pentagon thus moves into Health and Human Services.
The Hands On approach was evident yesterday as he described what is going on in the Gulf:
“...Governments make sure that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that cause them...”
Heckuva job, Brownie. Or should I say Miss Manners?