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美研究机构联邦经费被砍,77名诺奖得主联名谴责:太荒谬了

今年4月,美国国家卫生研究院(NIH)终止了一项针对蝙蝠所携冠状病毒的联邦拨款,这一行为日前遭到77名诺贝尔奖获得者联名反对。

被终止拨款的是总部位于美国纽约的非政府组织“生态健康联盟”。该研究机构一直致力于在全球范围内搜寻病毒,试图通过检测蝙蝠的血液和唾液发现新的冠状病毒并进行研究,为预防大流行病做准备。

“生态健康联盟”曾发表声明称,他们过去20年与超过25个国家的科研机构(包括武汉病毒研究所)合作,研究类似新冠病毒的新型病毒来源。

去年,NIH向该组织续发了逾300万美元的科研经费,用于研究蝙蝠所携冠状病毒。据报道,这笔经费是在2014年启动的。

“生态健康联盟”负责人彼得·达萨克称,该组织4月份称新冠病毒源于自然界,从动物传播到人类。报告发布后,NIH终止了对其的拨款。

A group of 77 Nobel laureates has jointly sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health calling for an "immediate reconsideration" over the cancellation of a federal grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a research group that collaborated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

According to Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, the New York-based research group had its funding revoked after it reported in April that the coronavirus highly likely jumped from animals to human.

The research group specializes in tracking viruses worldwide, saying it has worked in over 25 countries with institutions to do scientific research critical to preventing pandemics for the past 20 years. Last year, the National Institutes of Health renewed funding for that project that started in 2014, granting EcoHealth Alliance over three million U.S. dollars.

另据美国《纽约时报》报道,在4月份特朗普一次答记者问后几天,NIH就给达萨克去信,称他们质疑“生态健康联盟”和武汉一家研究院的合作项目,在通过电子邮件互相交流之后,达萨克被告知300多万美元联邦拨款被取消了。

对于终止拨款,NIH给出的原因则是:该研究“不符合联邦的优先需求”。

5月21日,77名诺奖得主对此联名“上书”,谴责NIH停止拨款的行为,直指美国将新冠肺炎疫情“政治化”、“太荒谬”,称此举树立了一个非常危险的先例,即对于有价值的科学研究,美国联邦政府可无缘无故随意撤回拨款。

他们要求美国卫生与公众服务部部长和NIH院长对停止拨款的行为立刻进行彻查,并在信中写道:“如果我们的目标是要控制这种流行病并预防未来疫情的话,现在正是需要支持这种研究的时候。”

NIH前任院长哈罗德·瓦尔姆斯表示,这项研究完全符合联邦政府的优先需求,取消拨款是特朗普政府“滥用政治权利来控制科学工作的无耻行为”。

联名信发起者理查德·罗伯茨说,当他给其他诺奖得主发邮件号召联名上书时,“大家的反响非常积极,所有人都很快回复了。”

As explained by the NIH, the research into the source of pandemics was not in line with "federal priorities." In response, the Nobel laureates described the NIH's move as "preposterous," calling for an investigation into the grant cancellation. As said in the letter, "the decision sets a dangerous precedent" because it offered no "justifiable rationale" for "revoking a grant that was awarded based upon scientific merit."

Meanwhile, former NIH director Harold E. Varmus said that the bat coronavirus research was in line with federal priorities. He called the cancellation “an outrageous abuse of political power to control the way science works.”

Richard J. Roberts, organizer of the letter from the laureates, said that when he emailed other Nobel recipients, “the response was overwhelmingly positive and everybody replied very quickly.”

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