NIH sequestration fact sheet: “delaying progress in medical breakthroughs”

The National Institutes of Health has released a fact sheet about the effects of sequestration on the agency. The 5 percent cut will result in a loss of $1.55 billion during the 2013 fiscal year.

They write:

Medical breakthroughs do not happen overnight. In almost all instances, breakthrough discoveries result from years of incremental research to understand how disease starts and progresses.

Given the length of time it takes to develop new therapies, they say the cuts will delay medical breakthroughs such as:

  • development of better cancer drugs that zero in on a tumor with fewer side effect
  • research on a universal flu vaccine that could fight every strain of influenza without needing a yearly shot.
  • prevention of debilitating chronic conditions that are costly to society and delay development of more effective treatments for common and rare diseases affecting millions of Americans. 

I was particularly interested in how the cuts will hurt the scientific workforce:

NIH drives job creation and economic growth. NIH research funding directly supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs and serves as a foundation for the medical innovation sector, which employs 1 million U.S. citizens. Cuts to NIH funding will have an economic impact in communities throughout the U.S. For every six applications submitted to the NIH, only one will be funded. Sequestration is reducing the overall funding available for grants. See the history of NIH funding success rates.

The entire piece is worth a read, especially the Q&A with specifics about what services and funding will be cut.


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