Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Getting behind medical research

Last Sunday, we were headed to downtown St. Petersburg at the same time as a few dozen walkers were completing their Komen 3-Day for the Cure breast cancer event.

Women of varying ages, shapes and sizes passed, nearing the end of their 60-mile trek to raise funds and awareness. We saw knee braces, sweaty faces, broad smiles — and sheer grit.

Suddenly the Women's Half Marathon I'm doing this month, a benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, seemed like not so much effort.

"Aren't they amazing?'' I said to my husband.

"Sure are,'' he replied. "But I wonder — has walking ever cured a disease?''

I did not like this question. You might not either if you've walked to cure as many diseases as I have.

But the guy — who has done some charity walking himself — had a point.

Now, you could say that walking is an excellent "cure'' for conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, depression, arthritis and obesity.

And I don't even know how you quantify the value of the camaraderie and awareness walking events create.

My husband was talking about raising research dollars in the vast sums needed for top-tier medical research. And though walk-related fees and fundraising do yield significant sums for research and education, they're not the entire answer.

A few days before the Komen event, I talked with Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America, about a survey her group recently did in Florida to gauge opinion on science and related issues. She told me that although Florida is No. 4 in population, we're 17th in research funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Who's getting our money?

At least in theory, research grants go to scientists and institutions that make the most convincing case for them. Woolley pointed to North Carolina as a state that became a research powerhouse when leaders beefed up support for universities and other scientific infrastructure. Florida, she suggested, could do the same.

Sunday, as the Komen was wrapping up, I saw more statistics in this newspaper: On average, the state contributes $5,960 per student to the cost of their education at the University of South Florida; a few hundred more for those at the University of Florida.

North Carolina (population rank, 10; NIH rank, 7) kicks in more than $11,000 per student at Chapel Hill. Tuition is higher there, too.

Maybe you think Florida has it right. The Research!America study did find that Floridians aren't as enthusiastic about paying taxes for science as they are about science itself.

But if you're not so impressed with the direction Florida is taking in regard to science education and medical research, you might consider dropping a line to your elected officials.

Walking for worthy causes has much to recommend it. But it's only one way to support the researchers working to unlock the mysteries of disease.


To find out more about the Florida poll, and how much different states attract in federal funds, go to

Getting behind medical research

11/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 4, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series


    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.