Nature Podcast

This is a transcript of the 11th September Podcast Extra on biomedicine and health in the US election. Audio files for the current Nature Podcast and archive episodes can be accessed from the index page (http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast), which also contains details on how to subscribe to the Nature Podcast for FREE, and has troubleshooting top-tips. Send us your feedback to podcast@nature.com.

David Goldston: Welcome to the second in our series of special podcasts on the US Presidential campaign. I'm David Goldston. Today we will be talking about biomedical policy. Both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have said they support increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health. But is that enough to get US Biomedical Policy on the right path? We will be talking about researching spending, drug approvals, bio-terrorism, education, and a range of other issues with our guests, Tom Cech the President of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Good afternoon Tom.

Thomas Cech: David I am happy to be here.

David Goldston: And we also have Jonathan Moreno, a professor at University of Pennsylvania. Jonathan thanks for joining us.

Jonathan D. Moreno: Thank you, David.

David Goldston: And Gail Cassell from Eli Lilly. Good afternoon Gail.

Gail Cassell: Good afternoon David. Thank you for including me in this group.

David Goldston: I would like to start by asking each of you just say two or three things that you think should be on top of the agenda of the next President in the area of biomedical research. Tom, why don't we start with you?

Thomas Cech: Well, I think the country really needs a strategic plan for federal funding of research, not just the NIH, but also the National Science Foundation and really as important as the amount of funding, is to have some confidence in the continuity of the funding and a multi-year plan, so that not only scientists but also students can plan their programs, their careers. Then secondly, I think there are pipeline issues; the country needs a supply of biomedical researchers to take advantage of the tremendous advances in basic science that have occurred over the last couple of decades and I think more attention needs to be paid to graduate school level students as well as kindergarten through K12 and undergraduate. And then may be a third area is in the area of stem cell research, now why focus on something that's obviously of very small slice of the biomedical pie, well because it's an executive order from the White House that in August 8, 2001 that put the restriction on federal funding on stem cell research and so clearly this is something that the President has under their control.

David Goldston: Thanks. Jonathan.

Jonathan D. Moreno: Well, I want to subscribe to all of Tom's remarks, in particular with regard to the long term planning. It strikes me that the kind of NSF, NIH model roughly physical sciences and engineering versus life sciences might no longer be appropriate in the 21st Century and increasingly, people are working in teams. People in that who do work on engineering and physical sciences working with people in biology, so when there is a decrease of funding on one side, it tends to inhibit what people can do on the other side. So that's one question is whether that model makes sense anymore. The second has to do with the way that the President gets science advice. I think it's time for first of all in general for the Office of Science and Technology Policy which is part of the Executive Office of the President, it is time for OSTP to be more engaged, to be re-engaged with science. Not only leadership at the federal level and helping to inform the President about the data that's coming out that's important to the President's policies, but also working with state leadership and increase in the states getting involved and doing their own work in science. There needs to be some kind of co-ordination role there. It seems to be, OSTP would be appropriate forum. It might even be time for there to be a life scientist as the science advisor to the President, which would be a departure. And the last thing I'll say as Tom did is the stem cell issue, though it may seem odd to focus on a specific point like this and of course this is a danger that this conversation about stem cells could form to the black hole of ideology, as a non-scientist my conversation with scientists suggests that this is a very important, would say symbolic issue, it's a morale issue. It goes to the question of how much leadership and freedom that scientists have to pursue their work; may be appropriate for that to be in Executive Order, but I have some concern that Congress may want to get into the act as well in 2009 and there's lots of room for what I would consider to be mischief, if opponents to stem cell research can impede legislation.

David Goldston: Gail.

Gail Cassell: Yeah, as I would place a lot of emphasis on the need to examine very carefully, the quality of the training experience and the length of time required today to get an advance degree and the impact that has on developing independent investigators. We have to realize that perhaps the products that we're turning out in terms of new scientists at the undergraduate level then going into the graduate levels that perhaps as Jonathan has suggested, we need to look hard at the training they are getting and is it of a sufficient nature and background and so forth. I would like to emphasize, how important I think it is going forward that in this country, that we preserve the synergy that we have between the public and the private sector, if we intend to maintain our competitive lead in science and technology, this is absolutely essential to me and is one of the major and distinct advantages we have as compared to other countries. That said, it is extremely important that both private sector, government sector and also public sector work hard to preserve the public trust. This is an area that we are going to need to continue to strive to work harder out. I believe we have appropriate rules by which we should all abide and now the question is, is there appropriate oversight and punishment for those that actually break those rules. The last thing I would like to just very quickly emphasize is Jonathan's comments about OSTP, I certainly agree with that and looking at our Presidential candidates, it is so essential and important now I think to very rapidly appoint very strong leadership in the science agencies if in fact we have departures there but do it rapidly, carefully and insist on scientific excellence with a lot of expertise and experience behind that.

David Goldston: Let's start with Tom's point about funding for the NIH and for the Scientific Agencies overall. You talked about a strategic plan. You mentioned continuity. Should we avoid promises to double funding over x-period of time and look for stability instead?

Thomas Cech: We need to know how many scientists we need to train to even sustain the current level of research in this country. That doesn't mean that we necessarily should be just sustaining the status quo, but if you don't have that number how can you possibly then plan whether because of opportunities that have come with, for example, the human genome project, one might want to invest even more money. So I think that all of these questions about work force issues, you know, are we training too many scientists, are we training too few scientists are impossible to answer if you don't have a goal, over a period of may be at least 10 years of what you would like to accomplish in fundamental research in this country. So I think that that kind of planning needs to be, that the President needs to tell the federal agencies it is their responsibility to do that planning and that we need those numbers, as of rational basis for the discussion of how much funding there should be.

David Goldston: Jonathan, what are some of the goals as part of that plan, we should have beyond at least making sure, we are keeping the status quo in the number of scientists and what should a President do before that time consuming effort takes place. What do they do in their first budget?

Jonathan D. Moreno: Well, I do not know that, there is going to be a lot more money for the next President to spend. I think some more creative solutions will have to be addressed. The purchasing power, the real purchasing power of the NIH since the doubling, I read recently, has declined by 15% and I can tell you as a sympathetic observer of the Medical School Dean at Penn, it's a terrible problem as time indicated for the institutions to keep research teams together under those conditions. Now you kind of imply David and I can't say I disagree entirely that you know this is something that research administrators might well have anticipated but as Che Guevara said in Evita, 'when the money keeps rolling in, you don't ask why', and that's you know pretty much the attitude that people have had in the establishment. One concern with respect to training is the fact that in a career path is a fact that the average age for the receipt of the first RO1 is what 42 years old. Now apparently there must be a way to keep qualified people both starting in the late 20s, early 30s and people who are older who haven't necessarily decided to go the professor route or the principal investigator route to stay in the system. And so I think if money isn't coming, more money isn't forthcoming and I doubt it is then we need to think about different ways for institutions to be incentivized, part in the ugly language, to create different kinds of positions with continuing career paths, perhaps 10 years of secure funding for somebody who is a professional more than a lab tech, but less than a professor and can be assured of a continuing career without necessarily going into a 10-year position.

David Goldston: Am trying to get out of my head the notion of med school deans appearing before their donors in Che T-shirts and berets but...

Jonathan D. Moreno: Anything that works

David Goldston: But Gail picking up on what Jonathan was just talking about industry obviously is a big part of employment pool for these researchers. What's your view on what the government should be doing and how industry fits in with this.

Gail Cassell: Well, I think one area that I am a bit concerned about looking at work force issues as Tom has pointed out is the true fact that a lot of research and manufacturing that's dependent upon scientific backgrounds is actually going outside the United States, out sourcing if you will. There have been a number of layoffs, chemists in particular in the industry. So the question is what kind of an impact and also engineers, what kind of impact does this have then on the needs for the future and I am not sure if anybody is really taken a hard look at the potential impact on workforces that relates to this. To me, I am also very concerned at the state level this year, I have given lectures at Harvard and last week at Stanford and University of Alabama at Birmingham where I am a professor Emeritus, I can only tell you the difference is between the public and the private institutions and the pain that's being felt is tremendous. We've always known there is a spread and a gap, if you will, but the other thing that I think is occurring without people paying too much attention to is the stress level within the state institutions. Number one, they are getting significantly reduced funds on the part of the stay. We have got attention with NIH and at the same time, the state legislators and businesses are dependent on the universities. The expectation that the universities and their federal dollars will aid in the economic development in the state, help create new jobs. So there has been a lot of investment on the state level and the other thing that's happening is that the private institutions as well as state have had to increase their tuitions. Almost one would argue, they've maxed out in terms of the level that it can be raised to; a lot of other flexible moneys are moving into tuitions; free scholarships, and therefore those flexible moneys are not available for research infrastructures. I think we are going to have to look hard at the research infrastructure that has been put in place and how rapidly that is declining and again impact on local and state economic development.

David Goldston: It sounds like we have a crisis of rising expectations with the system having grown in a way that it can't necessarily continue and expectations that can't be fulfilled. If we are going to have a strategic plan like Tom talked about, what should be the top 5 or 6 questions that it should address?

Thomas Cech: Let me mention a couple of them and then I will let my colleagues fill in the others. So, one issue coming up is that the baby boomer generation of academic faculty of research scientists at American Universities are eventually going to retire, perhaps at an older age than they used to, but nonetheless, this question of what percentage increase is required in the research budget isn't a fixed number. It has to really take into account, what it's going to take to sustain American competitiveness in these important areas of science and technology. The other very different, sort of, thing that came to mind as we were talking about these issues is that, you know, I think that at the undergraduate level where also really the trainers left the station, and there are not that many Americans on it anymore. So let me say what I mean by that that list of the top 5 universities that produce American PhDs, a PhD is from our own research universities, just came out and where are the universities where our PhD students got their baccalaureate degree, their bachelor's degree. Well they are Peking University, Changhua University also in Beijing, the University of Michigan, the National University in Seoul in Korea and the University of California Berkley. So three of the top five are in Asia and this puts us, I mean, this is wonderful for the time being for American competitiveness to have all these talented students coming from Asia. However, it puts us in an extremely precarious position for the future because as new opportunities and exciting opportunities are growing back in Asia, these students are returning to their homeland. So we've got to grow our own at some point as well as taking advantage of talent that is willing to help us out from other countries.

David Goldston: Jonathan, I see you're nodding your head and let me throw in also the number of US undergrads with these degrees is not necessarily declining, but the percentage as Tom noted of grad students is much more from abroad. So, do we need more incentives to get these undergraduate degree people to continue?

Jonathan D. Moreno: Yeah, and I think we shouldn't only think about the large universities, large research universities. Both of my kids go to small colleges and they find small colleges have produced some very good scientists and are very interested in continuing to do that, but it's very difficult for most of them to begin to keep up...

David Goldston: So, what you think is small colleges are lot bigger and as a solution to...?

Jonathan D. Moreno: Well, bigger science brains at least. But, you know I did have a conversation a few months ago with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, actually probably a fortune 50 company in the Bay area and this person's concern was of current visa requirements, which are very onerous. It's not clear whether it's a matter of person power in the state department or policy, but getting folks here and letting them stay here if they want to, which is an increasing problem in itself, but this is something that the next administration can look at it seems to me. I was in Beijing on a Gates foundation project a couple of years ago and I was talking about stem cells and the grad students in the room looked very excited about going to California. When they heard there was 2 billion dollars for stem cell research and the professor at the back of the room said, "They can go, but we're going to bring them back." So what Tom says is absolutely right. Let me just say one thing about the State University. I was privileged to work at the University of Virginia for 8 years before I went to Penn and a great institution that is stressed as has been said, as all of the other public universities and so one thing that I think we need to think about is how to help institutions in the state, particularly outside of the bay area and the Northeast., how to help them remain competitive in this area, particularly the state universities and the universities in the interior as well, though Michigan is doing well, there are places that are not as involved as they should be.

David Goldston: Tom, in your opening comments, you mentioned we need more attention on graduate education, biomedical graduate education. What kinds of additional steps need to be taken and what's the government's role in that?

Thomas Cech: Well, the NSF, the National Science Foundation, has had for many decades a graduate fellowship and the number of those that are being given each year has not increased as the country's population has increased. So there's really just a lack of support for individual graduate students; a lack of support for innovative interdisciplinary programs that really need to be set up at the universities to encourage faculty to take the tremendous effort that it takes to update their teaching and really be able to train the next generation of scientists. So I think the federal leadership is critical in these areas and as the federal budget has been pinched, as the research budget has been pinched, the outcry of researchers who are no longer able to get their work funded has actually caused a redistribution of funds away from training, towards research, although that's declining as well. So, I think a balanced portfolio is what the country needs. It needs to be balanced between supporting the graduate training and other levels of education.

David Goldston: So we talked so far mostly about the structure of biomedical funding. Let's talk a little about the content. We'll get to stem cells in a moment, but before we look specifically at that, are there areas that you feel need to be of focus in the future that either haven't received enough attention or they are just up on the horizon now that ought to be focussed on.

Jonathan D. Moreno: I read a very good piece by Jerome Groopman in the New Yorker about a problem that actually somebody called to my attention, a surgeon called to my attention 20 years ago, when I was working at the State University, Health Science Centre at Brooklyn about antibiotic resistant organisms. There are now ICUs in this country where you really do not want to be, you don't want to be in ICU anyway, if you can avoid it, but it's a real concern. Anybody who doesn't believe in evolution can you know just look at these little bugs and see it's true. One possibility is that some of the bio defence moneys that has been made available could and I think should be used to direct to this problem because it's one that as far as, I know, you guys know more about this than I do, the industry has kind of moved away from in recent years and I think it's time for us to refocus. This is a potential, real, real problem for people who're hospitalized.

David Goldston: Gail.

Gail Cassell: I'd like to emphasize two points with respect to what Jonathan said. Again in our training, I think we have downplayed some of the simplest areas of science, where they may not be so attractive, but we need people that are very well grounded in the basics and I think we've lost sight of that. The other thing I'd like to say is with regards to the money that were appropriated, almost 1.7 billion dollars to NIAID in February 2002 for development of counter measures for bioterrorism, a large portion of that has actually been devoted towards trying to develop new counter measures, which include antibiotics and there's no greater need right now than for antibiotics than for multi-drug resistant and extensively drug resistant TB. That said, I think Jonathan where we are with that is there are very big technical challenges with respect to these organisms. So I think we have the knowledge from the genomics and now what we need are new chemical entities, perhaps even reverting back to natural products. I realize we're down in the ways as Jonathan said, but again I think it goes back to what Tom mentioned at the outset about needing the strategic plan, what are our highest unmet medical needs in scientific priorities in this country to address our major problems. So again, just to emphasize I think the idea of developing this plan for research and not limiting it to a single agency, but looking agency wide would be a very healthy process and something that at least in my career hasn't happened.

David Goldston: So Tom, what are some others that you would recommend?

Thomas Cech: So for example, we know a lot about oncogenes and tumour suppressors, but can we translate that knowledge into better cures for cancer. You know, we know a lot about various cell signalling molecules and receptors, can we use that to better attack cardiovascular disease. We may be don't know enough about the human immune system to really make a good AIDS vaccine, but I will point out we did, it was the American investment in research on retroviruses that led to the very rapid identification of the HIV virus and took only a year to identify that and then the multi-drug treatment came directly from that scientific knowledge. So there are real success stories, but also many areas that are still in progress and that we need to follow up on.

David Goldston: So do we have a good system? Is it possible to have a system, to, sort of, reach consensus on what those areas of research should be? I mean, there has always been a concern that we have a 'disease of the month' syndrome and that especially the proliferation of institutes at NIH reflected that. Is there a process in place or do we need to change it, so that the kind of list that we just discussed here could actually be the way that science policies direct it, Jonathan?

Jonathan D. Moreno: I wouldn't want to see a centralized list; human knowledge grows and spurts in an unpredictable ways. So much of what was predicted in psychiatric, dynamic psychiatric theory 40 years ago has nothing to do with the way psychiatry is practiced today for example. So I think it would be a mistake to impose an external authority and I think we saw that that didn't work in the Soviet Union with respect to science, nonetheless the public has a right to expect that there will be careful thought given to the most promising areas and in...

David Goldston: What the government does is part and parcel of putting together a budget, hopefully not become overly prescriptive but picks the areas to focus on in areas of emphasis.

Jonathan D. Moreno: Sure and science is a social process and has political implications just like everything else that we do, but nonetheless there has to be room in a system for scientists and I knew you have written about this to, kind of, follow their motto and see where their curiosity takes them, what really is exciting about science is not when somebody, you know, gets into the bathtub and jumps out and says Eureka!, but when somebody looks under a microscope and says, Gee; that's weird and so although I think we want to have some targeted work, we also want to leave room for scientists to exercise their imagination, so I would be very leery of a centralized list.

David Goldston: So Gail Jonathan brought this balance between say translational and transformative research and I know Tom has been concerned about transformative research as well, are we in danger of going too far in one direction or the other, how do we make sure that we're both making sure that we get the applications of the research that we have done and continue with certain longer range research of the kind that Tom referred to?

Gail Cassell: Right to me, the processes within NIH in terms of the individual institutes as far as identifying priorities has worked pretty well. I think that certainly I know some for sure, the Burroughs Wellcome fund and am sure Howard Hughes also goes through a strategic planning process in terms of research priorities and I think that works well. I do believe that the establishment of the new translational research centres within medical schools that's now funded through NIH is a very good step in the right direction in terms of ensuring that we get more translation. I think that more emphasis on training of PhDs in clinical research also will be a step in the right direction in this regard. What I fear is however that we are in a situation in the United States today where our major regulatory body for new medicines, new devices, new vaccines is in a very bad state with regard to science and technology. This is an agency where every decision should be based on the very best science. It's an agency that last year had an appropriated budget of only 1.5 billion dollars, although regulating over trillion dollars worth of products. I don't want to get into the weeds there, but the point is that they have a thousand fewer scientists working in the agency than they did 15 years ago, on a lower budget...

David Goldston: And this is the Food and Drug Administration that you're referring to.

Gail Cassell: This is the Food and Drug Administration I am referring to. My fear is that we have made, I think a lot of progress this year in identifying the problems and also Congress, I believe, has done a very good job in terms of trying to increase the funding to improve the science. However, if we don't attract a very best leadership there at all levels in this based on science and scientific expertise, I am afraid that that we still are going to be lagging behind, if in fact we can't get it right.

David Goldston: Over time about new therapies, let's move onto stem cells what Jonathan you and Tom talked about at the beginning. Both the candidates have in the past indicated the willingness to support stem cell research. What will be the impact? What's the medical, biomedical researchers soon going to look like a fat lid is taken off?

Jonathan D. Moreno: Well, the prohibition on federal funding of most human embryonic stem cell research has been an enormous wet blanket on the whole research enterprise in this area and both Barack Obama and John McCain have indicated that they will free up federal funding for stem cell research, I would imagine that that would happen within their first month in office and I would look forward to that. Because the truth is that we need to do a lot more research before we even know what the potential of stem cell research for regenerative medicine, for curing diabetes or for spinal cord regeneration. We are not close to those, sorts of, medical breakthroughs and to just allow a very narrow type of stem cell research isn't going to get us there very quickly.

David Goldston: And Tom is there any concern that stem cell research wanted to let us going to take money away from other areas that has become, sort of, the area in a way that may cause problems or is it so promising and under looked at now that we can go forth.

Thomas Cech: We do not know how promising it is yet; we need to do more research before I can even answer your question. I am afraid that the polarization of the dialogue because it has become so politicized has encouraged some scientists to become very exuberant about the potential whereas if it hadn't become so politicized I think they would be a bit more sceptical as I am; I am optimistic but at the same time sceptical. So it will take 5 or 10 years of freed up research for us to really even be able to answer your question.

David Goldston: And Jonathan the ethical debate about stem cells has been pretty much limited to this question of using embryos, but presumably there are other issues that would arise once stem cell research actually is permitted.

Jonathan D. Moreno: Well, one of the exciting areas that's, kind of a, spin off is this notion that you can actually induce adult cells to become something like embryonic stem cells with respect to many of their characteristics. The embryonic stem cell lines will still be needed to understand how this pluripotency works in these so reprogrammed adult cells and this work is very new but one of the two investigators who published one of the first two papers about this last year, Yamanaka in Kyoto said something I thought was quite penetrating and I think we should put him on ethics commission, because he said you know, we actually have perhaps created more problems, ethical problems with the use of induced pluripotent stem cells, because they can conceivably become, no pun intended, even sperm if you treat them properly or egg cells, we don't know may be even a blastomere. Well these are not questions that anybody can answer yet but there are going to be new ethical issues with respect to these technologies if they turn out to be as exciting as many people think they will be.

David Goldston: Is there a scenario where there should be percentage of the funding set aside for social science and bio-ethics issues as the research goes forward as was done with the human genome program?

Jonathan D. Moreno: Well as a professor of bio-ethics you will never hear me oppose more funding for bio-ethics. I think that actually something like that is inevitable that the level of social concern about these questions is such that the money that set aside 4 or 5% from the human genome project is going to be a model for ethical, legal and social implication studies.

David Goldston: Let me raise another issue that came up earlier in terms of the specific area of research which is bioterrorism. What ought to be done with the bioterrorism budget in terms of both size and focus, Gail?

Gail Cassell: Yes, I think if one examines closely how those moneys are being spent, they are being spent also on emerging infections and innate immunity for example that have very widespread application to many areas other than just the potential bio threat agents that are manmade. So personally I think that NIH has done a very good job in terms of distributing the funds across areas that are extremely important and will help develop bioterrorism counter measures, but in addition will have a very solid impact on other areas of research. So I would be very careful before I start saying, David that we need to adjust those dollars.

David Goldston: Jonathan.

Jonathan D. Moreno: I just want to raise a related point about preparation for biological or chemical weapons incident. We think that the life sciences perhaps in terms of, sort of, wet labs and so forth, but we should also think about the life sciences in terms of social psychology and one area that really has been neglected it seems to me is the social psychology of an event particularly if it is regarded to be of a political origin and how a community or region is going to respond and is kind of a notion of psychological resilience I suppose, you could say. I don't know for example that the Department of Home and Security is paying attention to this at all, but if you think about the British experience with the IRA, you think about Israeli experience, there are things to be learned about the way communities can respond psychologically and in a sense when you are talking about terrorism, you know, that's the game. The game is how intimidated can a populous be and how quickly does it respond at a sociopsychological level. I think that ought to be on the agenda for the next administration.

David Goldston: And that presumably cuts across numerous agency lines.

Jonathan D. Moreno: Absolutely!

David Goldston: So we have touched on a variety of biomedical issues but in the Presidential campaign when you tend to see in terms of health policy is a focus on health insurance and a paragraph at the end may be saying the candidate supports increasing NIH budgets. What should a candidate or campaign be saying about this collection of issues, should it be getting more attention, Tom.

Thomas Cech: Realistically, I do not think that these issues are big vote getters or hot button issues for most of the population. So the hope would be that either candidate who becomes President will realize that these are not part as an issue. So, I mean how we are going to structure our biomedical research enterprise, our graduate training and our undergraduate training for the next generation of scientists. These are something that Republicans and Democrats should be able to pull in the same direction on these issues.

David Goldston: Gail.

Gail Cassell: I would just hasten to emphasize, however don't forget our investment now as a nation in biomedical research, if you include the biotech, pharmaceutical industry and the NIH budget, we are well over 70 billion dollars a year. I think we can ill afford to ignore that and so Tom I think from an economic development standpoint and comparison standpoint to me, I would think that we should be able to have a lot of people concerned about how these issues are handled given its impact on our economy in the future. But I am realist as you and I know that may be a dream but I think never before in history have you had the dependency on economic development that we have today and the expectations that it will yield the economic independence as we all seem to have today.

David Goldston: The candidates in that they have not said a lot about this issue on the trail, it is not clear necessarily where they might differ on these issues, as Tom said they tend to be bipartisan issues.

Thomas Cech: They should be bipartisan issues.

David Goldston: And Tom said that they should be bipartisan issues, do you see any places where there are likely to be differences between McCain and Obama administration given what the candidates have been saying so far, Jonathan.

Jonathan D. Moreno: I think you're less likely to hear at least so far senator McCain use the word embryonic when he talks about stem cell research and you more likely to hear Senator Obama use that word. Those are for understandable reasons, given the nature of the basis from which each candidate is coming and on which they rely, I think some more specific questions could be asked about what kinds of limitations might be placed or what kinds of oversight might be placed on the research in a McCain or Obama administration.

David Goldston: Gail.

Gail Cassell: One of the differences that struck me in looking at the Research America data was the fact that both candidates certainly appear to be very pro-investment in biomedical research, realize the importance, however, McCain was the only one that said, but I really don't know where the dollars are going to come from and there I think lies the big challenge for whomever the next President of the country is.

David Goldston: Tom.

Thomas Cech: I spent quite a bit of time looking at the candidates websites and although they are, sort of, bottom line stance on many of these issues such as amount of federal funding for research are more similar than they are different which is perhaps encouraging, I will just note that http://www.barackobama.com has a much more detailed analysis of many of the issues and certainly expresses a great deal of the candidates passion for these issues.

David Goldston: Well that seems like a good note to end on. That's certainly pleasant of you here to discuss on the size of research budgets, the nature of bioterrorism research and so forth. Certainly a lot for the next President to deal with. I want to thank Jonathan Moreno, Gail Cassell and Tom Cech for being here today, thanks.

Thomas Cech, Jonathan D. Moreno, Gail Cassell: Thank you.

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