LETTER : Undeniable need for research investment

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The Independent Online
Sir: Dr Mulvey (Letters, 19 April) of Save British Science puts the case well for more support for the nation's science in its universities. The fact that his organisation exists says much for the state we are in.

As a practising scientist and head of a top-rated research institution in the University of London (which exists also to teach), I have personally and professionally borne the brunt of the government's unprecedented reduction in funding.

Not all research is costly, but the concentration of money into larger and larger grants for fewer scientists makes it so. Let us not accept the wisdom that big in research is better, that bigger grants are more productive, but let us understand the human side of science. It is not some activity for a few on whom the sun has shone. It is a daily function of academics and industrial scientists and it needs its foot soldiers and data gatherers as well as its visionaries and generals. We destroy not only the diversity of contributions from individual researchers at our peril we also, by starving the many of funds, destroy morale.

As a nation we have the funds to build 40 new prisons while our universities crumble. How much more cant and defeatism can we tolerate.

Professor A T Florence

The School of Pharmacy

University of London

London WC1