Almost $30 Million to Create a Fruit Fly Database

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At $40.9 billion, Harvard University has the largest endowment of all American universities and colleges, yet the Ivy League institution has collected $29.7 million from the Department of Health and Human Services since 2014 to study flies.

But that almost $30 million was not enough - Flybase, a database of the genes and genomes of houseflies, requires visitors to pay either $150 or $750 annually for access!

The millions in funding from National Institutes of Health went to President and Fellows of Harvard College — otherwise known as the Harvard Corporation — for human genome research.

Research of fruit flies is one of the most commonly used model organisms for biomedical science, and the fly had been indispensable for basic research, the NIH says.

While the fly may be the subject of important scientific research, the $29.7 million of taxpayer money used to create Flybase does not mean American taxpayers have access to the research they paid for, since they still must pay an access fee.

The fly funding is just part of the $2.5 billion in grants Harvard has received between 2017 and 2021. Maybe some of that should cover the cost of membership to Flybase.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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