Institutionalized and irrational age discrimination has crept into an unlikely sector of the U.S. government – federal funding for neuroscience research.
The National Institutes for Health (NIH) has adopted a “Next Generation Researchers Initiative” that will allocate $210 million in funding per year for the next five years ($1.1 billion) for biomedical research for early-stage and mid-career “investigators” (a.k.a. scientists).
NIH officials claim this is necessary because baby boomers refuse to retire and are crowding out younger scientists and that this threatens to deter new scientific advances in the years ahead.
It is true the scientific workforce is two or three years older today than in the past but there is no evidence that this will have any adverse impact on the pace or quality of future scientific discoveries. It also seems probable that many factors contribute to joblessness for younger scientists, including changes in funding patterns for scientific research, globalism, automation and the economy.