In the Next Round of Budget Talks, Big Cuts for Health Research Are Coming | The Nation

This Congress- and Washington in general- has no foresight….

Their current budget cutting mania is leading us down the path to becoming a Third World Country.

We have fallen behind the rest of the world in so many areas and they seem intent on pushing us back even more…

From The Nation:

But the real damage will come after the proposed cuts take effect. The NIH is comprised of twenty-seven institutes and centers with particular focuses, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute; each will decide how to manage their individual cuts. The NCI will prioritize funding the same level of new grants (they currently fund 14 percent of new grant applications), but will have to cut funding from cancer centers. Others will have to choose between new and existing grants. When ongoing grants aren’t renewed, work may simply stop. “University departments will do their best to support promising research during a dry spell,” explains Riggins, “and there are a few foundations that provide bridge grants, but these resources aren’t abundant either.”

In the long term, funding scarcity will make it hard to attract top research scientists. Many have already left for more stable careers in industry. And US labs will continue to lose people not just to other fields but to other countries as well. Kelly Ruggles, a microbiologist at Columbia, says, “It used to be that people would come here to get trained in the sciences. Now, people are leaving for better opportunities in Singapore or China. There’s just more science than money right now.”

Of course, this is a difficult funding environment, but the proposed NIH cuts are based in part on ignorance. Legislators who understand the NIH tend to give it full-voiced support. When retired Representative John Edward Porter chaired the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the NIH, he held hearings with each of the twenty-seven institutes so members could hear directly from the researchers why they needed money and what they were doing with it. When, during the mid-’90s, the House Budget Committee proposed cuts to the NIH budget, Porter brought a troupe of Nobel laureates, esteemed scientists and business leaders in to meet with then-speaker Gingrich. The result? Instead of cutting the budget, Congress doubled the NIH budget over five years, because they saw that the funding was working. “I certainly learned that the money going to the NIH was money that was being tremendously well spent,” recalls Porter, “making a difference in the lives of human beings all over the planet.”

via In the Next Round of Budget Talks, Big Cuts for Health Research Are Coming | The Nation.

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