The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world. Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH is the nation’s medical research agency, doling out some 50,000 grants totaling $24 billion annually at taxpayer expense.
That’s a whole lot of money going to universities and research labs each year; and quite a few of those federal dollars are wasted, according to watchdogs such as the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. From the Washington Times:
“The National Institutes of Health has an outrageously large budget and gives away money with no real consideration of whether the projects being funded are of any value to taxpayers,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a think thank focused on waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer moneys.
Among the recent research projects funded by NIH are a handful involving alcohol — booze — and the effects of drinking…a little to a lot. As the Times article puts it:
There’s a whole lot of drinking going on in the name of government science, and some watchdogs think it’s the American taxpayer who is getting hammered.
Among the latest government-funded (that means taxpayer-funded) research to be given the green light by NIH is a $3.2 million study to get monkeys to drink alcohol excessively to determine what effect it has long-term on their body tissue. Yes, we’ll soon know how primates fare after getting plastered.
The Washington Times also reports on other drinking-related NIH-funded work involving mice, pilots, gamblers, and, of course, college students.
…the government’s premier research arm has doled out money in recent years for research on binge-drinking mice…$84,908 to breed mice that are genetically susceptible to binge drinking.
Between 2008 and 2010 the NIH granted Yale University and Arizona State University a combined $154,688 to determine if drinking excess amounts of alcohol leads to losing more money while gambling.
American taxpayers spent $835,571 from 2007 through 2010 so an Arizona company could develop a flight simulator intended to replicate the sensation of piloting an aircraft while drunk.
NIH also has handed out $69,459 to the University of Missouri to study whether text messaging college students before they attend pre-football game tailgates will encourage them to drink less and “reduce harmful effects related to alcohol consumption.”
When asked by the Washington Times to comment on the benefits of the University of Missouri research, NIH reportedly gave this response:
…the goal of the Missouri text message project wasn’t just to save the lives of coeds but also to empower “promising predoctoral students to obtain individualized, mentored research training from outstanding faculty sponsors while conducting dissertation research in scientific health-related fields relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers.”
Given the nature of that wordy justification elaborately constructed in heady government bureaucratese, one might reasonably wonder if the NIH staffer offering that reply was part of another drinking-related study.
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