Money for Nothing

Question: What do you find frustrating in your field?

Leonard Guarente: I think that at least for the aging field, one disappointment I would say that I've had is that aging is fundamental to so many diseases, yet I really think it's underfunded in terms of an approach to treating these diseases. And to give you an example, I think the past 10 to 20 years has been an amazing time in the field of aging. But the fraction of the NIH budget that goes to research on aging hasn't changed over that period. And to me that's disappointing, because I think that this is one leverage point to really improve human health.

 

Question: What type of research is over-funded?

Leonard Guarente: I'm not sure anything is overfunded, to be perfectly honest. You know, I think at least most major areas of research that I know of are meritorious. And you know, if you review grants, usually the number of grants you see that are worthy of funding far exceeds the number that actually get funded. So you know, I'm not saying -- I realize it's ultimately a zero-sum game, but I do think that aging in particular probably is a little bit underfunded now.

 

Question: Which countries are best at encouraging medical innovation?

Leonard Guarente: The U.S. has always been the best country in terms of encouraging innovation. And I think, you know, the rise of the NIH and the granting system after World War II to now is a really good example of that. And I know when I was a young scientist, you know, people would apply for grants, and they weren't so hard to get. The fraction funded maybe was 25 percent, something like that, and so that you could propose things that were a little bit out of the box and have a chance of getting funded to do it, which encourages innovation. I think now, once things become so tight, and instead of 25 percent you have 10 percent of grants funded, then I think, you know, any grant that seems the least bit risk is not going to be funded. And I think you tend to encourage sort of precise, calculated science at the expense of creative science. So historically this country has been the best. I think -- I'm a little concerned now that that might be trailing off, although I can't offhand tell you that it's better any other place.

 

Recorded on November 9, 2009

There isn't enough funding for research on aging.

The 10 most influential women in tech right now

These thought leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs are propelling the kind of future we want to be a part of.

Credit: Flickr, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch
Technology & Innovation
  • The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
  • The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
  • This list is by no means all-encompassing. There are many more influential women in tech that you should seek out and follow.

Keep reading Show less

In quantum entanglement first, scientists link distant large objects

Physicists create quantum entanglement, making two distant objects behave as one.

Credit: Niels Bohr Institute
Surprising Science
  • Researchers accomplished quantum entanglement between a mechanical oscillator and a cloud of atoms.
  • The feat promises application in quantum communication and quantum sensors.
  • Quantum entanglement involves linking two objects, making them behave as one at a distance.
  • Keep reading Show less

    90,000-year-old human hybrid found in ancient cave

    Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.

    Researchers in a chamber of the Denisova cave in Siberia, where the fossil of a Denisova 11 was discovered. CreditIAET SB RAS, Sergei Zelensky
    Surprising Science

    90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

    Keep reading Show less

    Ambassadors from 50 nations sign letter supporting LGBTQ rights in Poland

    Poland has become an increasingly unwelcoming place for the LGBTQ community. 50 diplomats hope to change that.

    Credit: Sentemon/Shutterstock
    Politics & Current Affairs
    • An open letter, signed by 50 ambassadors and NGO leaders, asked the Polish government to respect LGBT rights.
    • The Polish Government responded by denying the implied discrimination exists.
    • Poland has been deemed the "worst place to be gay" in the EU in spite of this.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast