Thursday, July 16, 2009

Patt Morrison for Fri 7/17/09


Friday, July 17, 2009


1:00 – 1:30




1:30 - 2:00


Some scientists say the grant system, the process by which they get their funding, tends to be…well, too safe.  Critics say it doesn’t reward revolutionary thinkers with groundbreaking ideas but rather promotes small incremental steps towards finding a cure.  Billions of dollars have been spent on research grants since the 1950’s but we don’t seem to be much closer to finding a cure.  If the grant system is reformed, do we have a better chance at the brass ring? 


Senator Arlen Specter held an Appropriations Sub Committee field hearing on this topic in Philadelphia on July 6, 2009.



Eileen Jaffe, senior member of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

She testified at Senator Arlen Specter’s Field Hearing in Philadelphia on July 6, 2009.


She has been a well-respected researcher for twenty-five years and has experience on both sides of this issue.  She has served on peer review panels and submitted proposals for review.  She believes the system is biased toward the safe, incremental approach and recommends establishing an independent review board to take a closer look at creative, revolutionary ideas that are rejected by the traditional peer review process.  She can speak in layman’s terms and is capable of giving a good overview of the process.


Andrew J.G. Simpson, scientific director for the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Institute, a global non-profit organization.


He worked at the National Institute for Medical Research in London and at the National Institute of Health (NIH).  The Ludwig Institute provides 70% of the funding their researchers need.  The rest, about 33%, comes from grants.  He believes the top institutions in the U.S. like Harvard and Yale should stop building new buildings and spreading their money around and fund only the most gifted researchers in their field.


NOTE: The grant process has the same limitations for every field of study, not just cancer research. 


John Rossi, chair of the Molecular Biology Department and Dean of the Graduate School at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope.


He participated in a National Institute of Health  peer review group for an AIDs research proposal yesterday, so he knows the process quite well. He and Eileen Jaffe say the grant system puts the innovative researcher in a sort of Catch-22 situation--they can’t get funding without providing some evidence that their revolutionary idea has some merit but they can’t provide the research without the funding. He says the NIH has instituted new criteria to offer researchers more feedback as to why their grant proposal was rejected


2:00 – 2:30

Recession Relations

Divorces are down, domestic violence is up, and so are memberships at on-line dating Web sites. How’s the recession affecting our relationships? Is it making it harder for couples to divorce for fear of economic uncertainty, or stoking our coupling instincts? Patt crunches the numbers.



Diana Shepherd, marketing director for the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts; their survey conducted in May found the recession was delaying divorces and inspiring “creative divorce solutions” in living arrangements



Sam Yagan, CEO of the free dating Web site, OKCupid-dot-com



Patricia Combs (like a comb, brush), family lawyer in Torrance, CA


- in her experience, divorces are just beginning to pick up at her firm after a dry spell; she’s also noticed restraining orders are way up



2:30 – 3:00

How Old is Too Old?

At 66, Spaniard Maria del Carmen Bousada gave birth to twin boys, becoming the oldest confirmed new mom.  In order to receive post-menopausal fertility treatments, Bousada lied to a California fertility clinic to skirt its age limit of 55.  Last week, she died from cancer, leaving behind two toddlers and sparking a global debate about the ethics of assisted fertility and late motherhood.  But if we have no problem with octogenarian fathers, why the double standard for women?



Dr. Marcelle Cedars, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, at UC San Francisco




Jacob Appel, bioethicist and medical historian




No comments: