El programa de Fondos para el Desarrollo Institutcional (Institutional Development Award,/IDeA) del NIH se halla en peligro. El presupuesto sugerido para este programa para el 2013 sugiere un recorte de $51 millones.
Fondos de IDeA proveen millones de dolares a 15 instituciones en Puerto Rico para el desarrollo de infraestructura de investigación, entrenamiento, investigadores jóvenes, e investigación sobre disparidades de salud, entre otras cosas.
Un recorte tan significativo a este programa tendría consecuencias serias para la investigación en Puerto Rico y otros estados que reciben fondos del programa IDeA.
Si desean pedirle al director del NIH y a los senadores y representantes en en congreso de los EEUU que preserven intactos los fondos para este programa, por favor firmen la siguiente carta (texto adjunto abajo).
On behalf of the Puerto Rico universities and research institutes that participate in the National Institutes of Health’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, we are writing to express our strong concern and displeasure with the FY2013 Budget Request for NIH’s IDeA program, specifically the proposed $51M cut in funding from the FY2012 level enacted by Congress. While we recognize that NIH is facing a challenging fiscal environment, the fact is that the NIH IDeA program currently funds 361 institutions of higher education in 23 states and Puerto Rico—almost half the states in the Nation—at a level that is less than 1% of the total budget of NIH. The IDeA program is crucial in building these communities' biomedical research infrastructure, competitiveness, and capacity as well as in providing support for a more diverse national biomedical workforce pipeline. A significant reduction in IDeA funding would have a major impact on these states and territories’ workforce, training pipelines, economies, ability to address health disparities and minority health problems, and other direct and indirect benefits of research.
The IDeA program is based on the understanding that every state and territory in this country can and should be able to contribute to innovation and advances in biomedical research, to provide access to research training opportunities, and to contribute to the local and national economies. Every region of the country has talent and expertise to contribute to our nation’s biomedical research efforts; and every region of the country must participate if we are to increase our nation’s biomedical research capacity substantially. The 23 IDeA states and Puerto Rico hold approximately one-fifth of all U.S. doctoral institutions, and academic scientists, and about the same percentage of the country’s population. A reduction in IDeA funding would greatly affect access to talent in a significant portion of the country and this could have long-term effects for the competitiveness of the nation.
Furthermore, IDeA funding provides a path towards increasing the diversity of the biomedical workforce. Recent studies have shown that minority scientists are vastly underrepresented among NIH-funded investigators. By providing funding to institutions that serve and train predominantly rural, poor, and minority communities, IDeA helps increase the diversity of new generations of scientists and the ability of our nation to address heath disparities. If the U.S. is to remain a world leader in science, our funding agencies must continue to support efforts such as IDeA that broaden and diversify the research workforce.
General support for the IDeA program and recognition of its accomplishments is so strong that in FY2012 Congress approved a $50 million increase for IDeA. Support for the program was reaffirmed by Dr. John Holdren, Head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, on January 19, 2012 during a speech to members of the EPSCoR/IDeA community in Washington, DC. These politicians and policy makers recognize the impact that IDeA has for local communities and the nation. Thus far, IDeA has been highly successful in increasing the competitiveness of researchers, and research and academic institutions in IDeA states. Measures of success include:
•As of 2010, more than $1.5B in NIH non-IDeA funding has been awarded to investigators.
•In 2011 there were 1492 publications tied to IDeA funding, including breakthroughs in post traumatic stress disorder, asthma, stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and many other diseases and disorders that affect human health.
•In 2010, 405 new R01’s and 157 new R21’s were awarded to IDeA investigators.
•IDeA investigators represent 8.8% of all NIH designated New Investigators.
•New centers for clinical and basic research have been established in IDeA states through IDeA funding and IDeA built the first optical fiber network in the North East for research and education.
In Puerto Rico, IDeA programs have had an impact on several fronts through a series of institutional grants covering areas such as neuroscience, neuro-AIDS, and the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Program. The INBRE program has provided a model to establish biomedical research in Hispanic-serving undergraduate institutions. Moreover, our program has allowed the establishment of a cohesive multi-institutional network for the exchange of science and research training administration expertise, the sharing of infrastructure and facilities, and the establishment of collaborations that have propelled biomedical research throughout the Island and among undergraduate and graduate programs. Major achievements include:
(i)PR-INBRE has 15 institutional members, from both public and private universities. Approximately, 2,324 faculty members and 14,828 students across the 15 universities are involved in the program. In participating universities, approximately 202 grant applications were submitted to a variety of funding agencies this past year. Of these, approximately 166 were awarded, obtaining around $34,959,784 in total. Also, PR-INBRE directly supports 11 research sub-projects; these sub-projects have, on average per year, produced 50 presentations and 32 publications, trained 44 students, and submitted 18 grants with 2 grants awarded. Five patents have been produced from these sub-projects so far.
(ii)The PR-INBRE Tuition Program provides our biomedical research students, faculty, and government/industry workers, opportunities to participate in courses and career development activities.
(iii)PR-INBRE has established collaborations between scientists at major research institutions throughout the United States (US) and undergraduate institutions in Puerto Rico and has launched a Technology Transfer Travel Award for faculty and students to promote research training exchanges. Five faculty members and students participate in this exchange every year.
(iv)The Puerto Rican network of biomedical scientists has been strengthened through junior faculty summer internships that provide summer salary to faculty members and student fellowships that incentivize students to develop projects with established investigators from the island. Approximately two faculty members and fifteen students participate in these opportunities each year.
(v)The K-12 population is impacted by PR-INBRE through the Science on Wheels Program. This program is designed to promote interest in biomedical research careers among local K-12 students. This program impacts yearly, on average, 5,085 students throughout the island and involves the participation of 180 faculty members.
In addition, PR-INBRE support has been crucial to the establishment of the UPR High Performance Computing facility (HPCf). The HPCf provides advanced networking and high performance computing support to biomedical researchers throughout the island. The HPCf has also contributed to the establishment of the field of bioinformatics in Puerto Rico, providing research training to 10 Ph.D. students in microarray analysis, two Ph.D. students in gene expression databases, one Ph.D. student in estimation of microbial diversity, and one Ph.D. student in analysis of mitochondrial gene order. Over 100 graduate students have been trained in workshops and courses in bioinformatics supported in part by the HPCf. INBRE support has also been essential in the establishment of Internet2 in Puerto Rico, providing support and connections to all the campuses of the UPR, the Universidad Central del Caribe, the Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and other undergraduate institutions such as the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon. With support from INBRE, the UPR Medical Sciences Group has become a leader in the transmission of experimental surgical procedures live over the Internet2. Because the effort of INBRE supported staff at the HPCf is shared with other projects, the INBRE award has an indirect effect on other federally supported projects. The HPCf provides computing and networking support to the NSF funded Institute for Functional Nanomaterials, home to 44 researchers, 12 postdoctoral scholars and more than 100 graduate and undergraduate students. Without INBRE support, none of these activities would have been possible.
PR-INBRE has had great impact in Puerto Rico’s expansion of its research capacity over the last ten years. But there is still much work to be done. Puerto Rico stands with the 23 IDeA states in support of maintaining IDeA funding at present levels. Failure to do so would place the efforts and achievements of the last two decades at risk and would negatively affect a large area of the country, consisting of many medically underserved communities.