Gingrich Gets Brain Science Politics Wrong

December 15th, 2011 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

In a Washington Post blog, Gingrich at University of Iowa: ‘I want to talk to you about brain science’ – Election 2012 – The Washington Post, Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is quoted as saying,  “This (brain science)  is a very big idea in an area that many political leaders won’t attack.” Well, I spent most of the 1990s dealing with neuroscience research funding in Congress and there were many political leaders willing to support (as opposed to “attack”) neuroscience research.

I responded with this comment, “Gingrich has got it all wrong on the politics of neuroscience. In fact, many politicians have embraced it, going back to the 1980s, when the late Congressman Silvio Conte (R-MA), led the efforts on the Appropriations Committee to expand neuroscience research funding, principally at the National Institutes of Health. He also introduced and led enactment by Congress of the Decade of the Brain Resolution which President George Bush (41) signed, declaring the 1990s as “The Decade of the Bran.” There were numerous Congressional briefings and events during the 90s, some sponsored by the Library of Congress, and many by patient and professional groups as well as organizations I was associated with, such as the National Foundation for Brain Research. Congressman Claude Pepper, Senators Pete Domenici, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, and Lowell Weicker were outstanding leaders. Gingrich was not one of them although to be fair he did support expansion of NIH funding overall.”

The blog also had a reference which seemed to indicated that someone was complaining about the lack of action by the FDA to approve anti-obesity drugs. However, the question appeared to pit obesity against neurology. My response, There is a curious reference in the blog, seemingly from a member of the audience, on whether obesity should be stressed over neurology. The question is odd. Obesity is a neuro-endocrine disease and the brain plays a critical, actually the critical, role in regulating body weight. So, one can’t really posit obesity or neurology. This is not to say all treatments have to be neurological. Many, like lap-band or the OTC drug, Alli, do not work on the neurological system.”

As readers have seen, obesity is playing a prominent role in this campaign so far. See Politics. Take the opportunity to comment on news articles such as this one to set the record straight.