Vol. 13, No. 3 - May-June 2009Cover Art

What recession? Instead of mortgage-backed securities, the US government is investing more heavily in science.

Although the world is still in the throes of a major economic crisis, US government spending on scientific research is actually on the rise. This is most welcome news for the multitude of researchers who depend on US government funding to conduct their work. It is also reassuring to the larger scientific community that research is once again a top priority in Washington, D.C. On top of an increase in the annual operating budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that was put in place by the outgoing Bush administration, President Barack Obama has pledged an unprecedented amount of money in his proposed 2010 budget to support scientific research. And through a one-time economic stimulus package passed by the US Congress in February, the NIH received US$10.4 billion to fund both infrastructure and so-called beaker-ready projects. Research grants from the stimulus dollars just started rolling out. In this issue, we examine how much of that money will be spent on HIV prevention research and AIDS vaccine-related projects in particular.

Fears have been percolating in the international community about how the global recession will impact international AIDS spending in the coming years. The US, as the biggest backer of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care services in the world, has been under the most scrutiny. Despite Recession, New Funding Stimulates Scientific Research, reviews the AIDS-related spending in Obama’s budget, which is now under review by US lawmakers. Although many changes will likely occur before a final budget is approved later this year, this article outlines the administration’s priorities and commitments.

With more money flowing to science, innovation is likely to follow. At the same time, a cheaper path to progress could be just a few clicks away. Not Sure? Ask Everyone explores how crowdsourcing is using the wisdom of the masses to try to solve some of the challenges that plague researchers, including those working to design improved AIDS vaccine candidates.

Let’s hope both paths to new discoveries spur progress.

—Kristen Jill Kresge, Managing Editor