The AAMC May 17 submitted a comment letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in response to a Request for Information on optimizing funding policies and other strategies to improve the impact and sustainability of biomedical research [see Washington Highlights, April 3].
The letter emphasizes the need for reliable, predictable, long-term funding to sustain progress in biomedical research. AAMC also recommends that NIH and the research community oppose any formulation of policies that would increase levels of federal research activity by shifting costs onto institutions or other partners, such as through caps or arbitrary adjustments. The letter states, “The key to improving the environment for research is to create more resources, to make better use of resources, and to establish a more predictable environment, not to distort, mask, or shift the actual costs of research.”
AAMC notes that, based on extensive interaction with constituents, an outline of an evolving research system has emerged, and recommends that NIH help catalyze these trends to optimize research funding. This evolving research enterprise may be characterized by institutional changes that include:
- Finding more opportunities for resource-sharing and strategic collaboration;
- Seeking to diversify sources of research support;
- Greater integration of research and training missions with health and community service; and
- Finding optimal methods to store, share, and access data.
“The resulting academic research system will be in parts more complementary, seeking and matching comparative advantage over competition,” the AAMC states.
Finally, concerns about the sustainability of the biomedical research system largely center on the training and development of the research workforce. In its comments, the AAMC reiterates its support of efforts to broaden the scope of research training programs, to collect better data on training outcomes, and further recognize the diversity of careers that research training can serve.