“The Gatekeepers of Good Science”: Dutch public funding of medical science since 1950
In an ongoing research project for the Dutch funding body ZonMw, Bert Theunissen, Martijn van der Meer and Noortje Jacobs investigate how public research funding in the Netherlands has since 1950 influenced what counts as scientific quality and responsible research in the biomedical and health sciences. We trace the rise of public funding for Dutch medical research by looking at two of its main institutions, Z/NWO and ZonMW, and analyze the evaluation criteria that these organizations have historically used for judging grant applications in medical science. By analyzing how these criteria have changed or remained stable since 1950, we aim to elucidate how Dutch public research funders have sought to steer the course of medical science in the last seventy years and how this has influenced the terms under which medical scientists and their work can be recognized as authoritative. In the Descartes colloquium, Noortje will share some of our initial findings. In addition, we hope to discuss the benefits and limitations of our approach in studying the historical role of funding in the production of knowledge and scientific careers.
Noortje Jacobs researches and teaches on the history of medicine and science at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam. In 2018, she defended her PhD-thesis Ethics by Committee on the history of human experimentation and ethics review in the medical sciences. Currently, she is also working on the history of research funding and the history of researching Alzheimer’s disease. With Frank Huisman, Nancy Tomes, and Duncan Wilson, she has started up an international research network on global histories of accountability in health care, that held its first meeting in July 2019. More information on Noortje can be found here.