Funding distribution in the NIA is ridiculous. Not only the existing decision making system of grant approval is not effective, it’s actually harmful. Researchers have to submit grant applications only on the type of research where they know what results they’re going to have. Otherwise they wouldn’t get any money at all, because the research project would have low score. This system makes scientific breakthroughs impossible and good research results not likely. This is what I call ridiculous.
Apparently, there’s no chance for promising, but ‘risky’ research like the one on senescent cell removal by Dr. van Duersen, to get funding in the NIA. Even though there is compelling evidence that further research will bring results. The article in the FightAging! blog Reason describes the situation in greater detail. I would like to focus on the fact of the overall misery of the NIA funding system. Felipe Sierra in the New York Times article motivates the refusal with the overall lack of funding. I think this is not an excuse. NIA is spending approximately 1 billion dollars a year on research, however nearly all of that money goes to ‘safe’ projects with known results. This makes the whole funding absolutely meaningless.
NIA as a government agency has to lobby its research interests. There should be a constant struggle for funding increase to be spent on innovating, promising, ground-braking aging research. We don’t see that. Scientists are silent, because they don’t want to argue with the authorities, because they want to get grants in the future. This type of cowardice will lead the field towards extinction. I firmly believe scientists involved in any type of aging research must be very vocal. They have to claim their goals loud and clear. They have to fight for their future, the future of their research results. Even if they have to fight with the NIA as a government agency. The existing order has to be changed. For the sake of science.