A Message for Martin Frank

In case you don’t know (and, likely, you don’t), Martin Frank is with the non-profit American Physiological Society and he raised my ire this morning. Here’s why:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) uses taxpayer money (read: yours and mine) to fund as many as 60,000 scientific studies every year. In the State of the Union address last night, President Bush praised Congress for doubling the NIH budget, so we can assume this number will only grow.

At the end of each study, the scientists publish their findings. Until now, it could cost $20 and more to get your hands on a copy. Sharon Terry, who runs a patient advocacy group called The Genetic Alliance, says she has spoken with parents who have used information from these studies to make a difference in the care of their children, many of whom have devastating diseases. Sadly, she says, without access some parents have watched doctors make grave mistakes in the treatment of their kids.

The NIH, in an attempt to make this information more accessible (and in a nod to the current state of technology), will be asking its scientists to make their findings available freely available to anyone by uploading them into an Internet archive. Good news, right?

Well, there are some companies out there that make a profit from publishing these papers, and they don’t like it at all. Some of them are non-profit organizations who use the revenue to fund really important things, like meetings and copy paper.

So, Martin Frank. Martin is with a non-profit group called the American Physiological Society. This group sells research papers and Martin doesn’t really want you to have access to the results of scientific studies that you paid for.

Martin says, “I think the government is trying to extend its reach beyond where it should be.”

My message to Martin?

Screw you, buddy.