Politician DO NOT understand the process of research.
This is a subject that infuriates me on a daily basis. In brief rant, I will cover a few of those infuriations.
Most people don't understand where most research is actually done. Well, let me inform you: most research is done in universities by graduate students and post-doctoral fellows (that is, people who have a Ph.D. but seek experience in order to enter the elite "Principle Investigator" status job). Long lived Ph.D. principle investigators (PIs) lead groups of said folks in discovering whatever it is that they are interested in. Graduate students and post-docs are typically expected to learn what is known in the field and what is known in the lab and build a project to further the knowledge of said field.
Funding of academic research is based on a panel of peer scientists chosen yearly for their prowess in the field of choise and their understanding of the studies in question. NO overseeing gov't body has anything to do with it for NIH. The DoD grants however, are overseen by the DoD. Anyway, most biomedical grants are NIH or a similar group. The review process of grants for research are reviewed by peers in the field of question, people who are deemed exceptional in the field of question. There is no Bush administration party present, ever.
Topics of research vary so much that I could not express it in words. Academic research covers just about everything that could ever go wrong or right with your body. I study a virus, so I'll focus on the "wrong" side of it. Again, there is NO such thing as pork spending in biomedical sience. How many times can I say that in one essay?
There can be any number of topics of research. I've seen studies of pig viruses that have down-right changed everything we think about a certain human virus. In fact, my personal competitor studies a pig virus instead of the human virus that we study in an effort to discover similar things in a BL1 environment while we are struggling to show a similar thing in a BL2 environment.
The Media will say "So-and-so is spending millions to study a virus that only infects chickens." Meanwhile, the virus is Rous Sarcoma Virus (RSV) which is so close to HIV that researchers have called them homologues. They are studying RSV because HIV requies a Biosafety Level 3 lab (BL3) to study and RSV is a BL1 SIMILAR virus. They value the lives of their researchers, but the media says they are pork?? BS.
The same goes for vaccines. People seem to think that vaccines are made by "Big Pharma" companies. This is not often the case. Most vaccines are developed or at least envisioned by basic scientists with no material benefit from the discovery. Don't get me wrong, some are defintitely made by companies, but they still base their research on academioc recourses.
BTW, Vaccines have risks. For sure. BUT, they are FAR fewer than the risks of not getting vaccinated. FAR fewer. Get your kids vaccinated or get ready to face several viruses that will eigther kill or destroy the funtioning of your child. The risk outwieghs the danger by 98%.