FB2017_02, released April 18, 2017

A Database of Drosophila Genes & Genomes

FlyBase funding cuts and Statement of Support - David Bilder

Dear Drosophila PIs-

As President of FlyBoard, I am writing to call your attention to a critical issue that has arisen for our community. The NIH institute (NHGRI) that supports Flybase and other Model Organism Databases (MODs) is changing their funding approach. These changes are reported today in Nature (http://www.nature.com/news/1.20134) as well as previously in Science (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6268/14.long). NIH has put forth a plan where FlyBase and its equivalents for C. elegans, yeast, zebrafish, mouse and rat would combine into a single ‘uberMOD’, with an upcoming 30% cut in funding. While integration will increase accessibility of the functional data that each community has collected over decades, the current plan with its reduced funding will have a severe impact on Flybase's ability to maintain Drosophila-specific datasets that many of us rely on daily.

Because of the concern about this plan and its broad impact on many thousands of researchers, leaders of model organism communities have come together to write a letter to NIH leadership that strongly supports the MODs and advocates for maintaining species-specific datasets with requisite funding. A bevy of prominent signatories, including Nobel laureates, heads of scientific societies, and National Academy members have already endorsed this initiative. We hope to gather thousands of additional signatures and present the letter to NIH Director Francis Collins at the TAGC meeting in Orlando. The letter can be easily signed on a website, created by our partners at the Genetics Society of America (GSA), with your name and just two simple questions about your location and any NIH funding. These questions simply allow us to collate signatory numbers should NIH request a breakdown along these lines.

The link is http://www.genetics-gsa.org/MODsupport.

We urge you to add your name to the Statement of Support. We also urge you to forward this email to the trainees in your lab, as we aim to collect signatures from all MOD users who concur (for the question about NIH support, we can consider those who work in an NIH-funded lab to be NIH-supported). Finally, we encourage you to spread the word through your colleagues and via social media. We have every hope that a strong show of support, via an outpouring of signatures, will help shape the NHGRI plan to preserve the MOD features that are most important to our research enterprise.


David Bilder

President, Fly Board

Professor, UC-Berkeley