A Nature News bit [h/t @davidkroll] on the NIAAA/NIDA merger mostly covers the usual ground. It did add two bits of info into the discussion space, however. First, they got a "no comment" response from the beverage industry:
Although the alcohol industry is unlikely to relish its legal product being lumped in for study with street drugs such as cocaine and heroin, it has so far remained silent. US Trade groups including the Beer Institute, the Wine Institute, the American Beverage Institute and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States all declined to comment for this article.
I'm still betting their entire strategy (if they actually care about this, which I suspect they do) is going to be by trying to get a pet Congress Critter or two to oppose the plan. Spirited opposition can probably block the whole plan.
The second tidbit is contained in a graph of the recent success rates for applicants to the two Institutes. This underlines something that NIAAA people have been quietly bragging about for the past several years. They managed to soften the GreatBudgetCrash blow through 2005-2007, maintaining relatively higher success rates when NIDA's went in the tanker. The two ICs success rates are closer now, albeit NIAAA applicants enjoy a slight advantage. What does this reflect? Hard to tell from this type of data.
Is it better stewardship? That NIAAA Program Staff anticipated the flatlined federal allocation and planned for it better? Important to know as the POs of the two institutes are integrated. Maybe the NIAAA staff deserve a more-equal ranking based on their performance in past years?
Is it a reflection that smaller ICs can respond more nimbly? This would seem to be an important analysis to make given the push to consolidate not just NIAAA/NIDA but to merge additional small institutes in the future.
Is this only a reflection of a smaller, more insular research community that was more responsive to Program Staff's warnings not to submit so many proposals? Did the NIAAA's pronounced bias to put a lot of $$$ into BigMech Centers and the like smooth the process somehow?
...just thinking out loud here...