I enjoyed your Rubella luncheon but it was a particularly notable occasion for me because it gave me an opportunity to meet
you at last. I was much impressed by your perceptive questions and those of Dr. Farber concerning adequacy of support for
vaccines in general and Rubella in particular.
Of course there is far too little support to solve the enormous problems envisioned by those who must actually do the research.
Drs. Davis' and Overman's answers that the current budgets were adequate were given in a context full of existing
limitations. In other words, given the existing facility and personnel ceilings that have been imposed for many years on the
intramural programs of the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the current virus-vaccine funds appear to represent all that can be effectively
supervised. For instance, my intramural research associates must provide scientific supervision for the entire viral vaccine
program and carry out their own research work as well. To do this properly, we need twice as much space and twice as many
well-trained virologists. Currently most of my associates, including perhaps four of the ten most accomplished and productive
virologists in the world, are each supervising the research programs of five or more outside contracts, and at the same time
our virus group published 125 papers last year. Drs. Chanock, Rowe, Sever and I must rely (in some cases) on two-year research
associate appointees to help us supervise large research programs. This is nuts, but we have no alternative. We can't
keep most of our most promising young investigators after we train them because we haven't space for them to pursue their
own research interests after their two years' training as associates.
The time is drawing near when vaccines will be sought for various cancers and leukemia. A well-conceived and effectively managed
cancer virus vaccine program will depend to a great extent on the professional intramural staff of the National Institutes
of Health and their ability to design and supervise and coordinate the mission-oriented virus research programs required to
achieve such vaccines.
We still have too large a gap between scientific discovery and its application to the solution of human problems. The National
Institutes of Health represents the national instrument for closing this gap. Considering everything, it has done very well
up to now, but it can and must be able to move more effectively on today's research frontiers. This can't be done
with yesterday's facilities, last year's concepts and a residual handful of top-flight in-house scientific planners
I will be happy to develop these thoughts further if you think it worthwhile. It's not so much that we need more funds
(which of course we do). It's lack of know how in the government machinery for making maximum use of the funds available.
Robert J. Huebner, M.D., Chief
Laboratory of Infectious Diseases
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases