For decades, the academy has depended heavily on dollars coming from Washington. Whatever their politics in other realms, investigators want government funding of research to grow. “Starving the beast” as a policy direction means starving them. That includes my buddies and me on the Trollfjord. Buoyed by the influx of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money, investigators are especially happy with the government now, appreciative of the administrators and staff in Bethesda and Rockville, Md., who keep the system humming along in a remarkably open and fair way. To those in the research trenches, the NIH people are unsung heroes. On the clinical side, Medicare and the VA are big sources of funds for the academic centers. A substantial piece of all house staff training occurs at the VA, and a nice red brick hospital in the neighborhood of a Mecca is a welcome sight for many a dean.
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Explore This IssueJune 2010
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Although those in practice may view the government’s presence in healthcare differently than their colleagues in research, change in the healthcare system has and will continue to be a major priority for them as well. Anyone confronting the ardors of caring for the sick in a fragmented and troubled insurance system has to acknowledge the necessity of reform. There is a terrible irony in realizing that, while science can dissect the molecular defect of a patient with lupus to the level of a single cell, that patient may succumb because she has no way to pay for CellCept when the wolf comes calling at her door.
The wind and waves off the coast of Norway had conference speakers clinging to columns while giving their talks and speeding through their presentations in order to race for Trollfjord’s deck for a breath of fresh air.
Awaiting the Final Scores
The debate in Congress dragged on during the weekend and, with the time zone difference, I went to sleep on Sunday night not knowing the outcome of the final vote. The next morning, our boat was far out at sea, bumping wildly in the last hurrah of Scandinavian winter. The first thing I did after my alarm clock beeped was to turn on my BlackBerry to find out the Congressional vote. Alas, I was out of transmission range. The television was no better, featuring the highlights of the Liverpool–Manchester United match. After showering, I hurried off to the dining room, as the Trollfjord teeter-tottered in the waves.