Politicians urged to stay out of NIH grant process

Separately, the coalition has put together a six-page primer defending the rationale for research that came under fire from the Traditional Values Coalition last week. Some of the research involves homosexual behavior.

"The development of effective interventions for HIV/AIDS prevention depends on a scientific foundation of biomedical research as well as behavioral research that identifies the psychological, social and cultural causes of risk-taking behaviors and the mechanisms that facilitate behavioral change," reads the scientific justification for research regarding penis size and risky behavior among gay men.

Meanwhile, the Traditional Values Coalition on Tuesday highlighted a new batch of NIH grants it deems questionable. This time they focus on research in China that could appear to offer little direct value to U.S. taxpayers.

"As our country heads to fiscal ruin, why are we giving millions in taxpayer dollars to Chinese science — which benefits China and its institutions — when they hold more than $1 trillion in American debt?" coalition President Andrea Lafferty said in a statement. "It is good to fund certain types of medical research, provided it benefits those who pay for it — the American taxpayer. It is simply unacceptable for the NIH to pay Chinese researchers to study acupuncture, or fund international research, when we are struggling to pay our own debts. That China, our biggest creditor, is the recipient makes this waste all the more incredible."

The NIH says Americans "benefit enormously from research that has taken place elsewhere."

"In this increasingly 'flat' world, health issues affect us all," the NIH told The Hill. "Diseases don’t respect borders. Globalization has increased the movement of people and products around the world so diseases can spread more quickly."

Diseases now plaguing China — including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and dementia — "also touch virtually every American family in some way," the NIH said. "International collaborations to study these diseases can speed knowledge on how to treat and prevent them around the world.

"NIH also funds training of the next generation of researchers in global health, both foreign and U.S. scientists, including new investigators to build the scientific research pipeline and meet the research priorities of both the U.S. and collaborators abroad."

—This post was updated at 4:15 p.m. with reaction from the NIH.