In Like a Lion: As Sequestration Roars, Funding Cuts Loom Large at the National Institutes of Health

Ah, the month of March: In like a lion, out like a….well, we don’t yet know how it is going to turn out.

President Obama signed sequestration funding cuts into law on March 1, 2013.  What does this mean for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)?

NIH
Image Credit: National Institutes of Health/Lydia Polimeni

Sequestration at the NIH by the Numbers:

$1.2 trillion: Total government sequestration cuts over 10 years ●  $85 billion:  Amount in across-the-board spending cuts anticipated by all federal agencies, including the NIH (1) ● $30.9 billion: NIH annual budget (2)  ●  $1.6 billion:  Spending cuts anticipated by the NIH ● 430,000: Number of scientific technical jobs at risk for cuts or elimination (3) ●  300,000: Number of researchers around the world supported by NIH funds ● 6,000: Number of scientists conducting research in NIH laboratories  ● 2,500: Number of biomedical research institutions, universities, and medical schools supported by NIH competitive grants  ●  80%: Percentage of funding allocated for competitive grants  ● 10%: Percentage of budget designated for intramural research (2) ● 10%:  Percentage reduction in NIH research grant funding anticipated with sequestration ● 5.1%:  Anticipated percentage reduction for medical research due to sequestration (3)

Researcher with DNA Sequencer
Image Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute/Maggie Bartlett

The NIH indicated as recently as February 20, 2013, that fewer competing grants would be awarded and that non-competing awards would be reduced if sequestration occurs. (4)  Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, voiced her concerns regarding the deleterious effect of sequestration on biomedical research at a press conference held recently at the NIH: (5)


Video Credit: Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski

Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director, communicated his concerns about sequestration at the same venue and also several months ago in a House of Representatives Energy and Commerce hearing. He commented that there would be cuts in research in many areas, including basic science, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Collins indicated that “cuts….would depend on scientific priorities,” and that sequestration is an “event that could do serious damage to the progress made in medical research.” The NIH Director then relayed a powerful analogy in the same June 2012 hearing, as if predicting the future: “We would have to basically spread the pain.  We wouldn’t do it in a completely blind fashion like a hair cut, but everybody’s hair would get cut pretty significantly.  There would be a lot of people with very short hair at the end of this.” (6, 7)

References:
1.   Mervis, Jeffrey. “Sequestration: A Primer for the Perplexed.” Science Insider. February 5, 2013.  Website.  http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2013/02/sequestration-a-primer-for-the-p.html.  Retrieved March 9, 2013.
2.   “About NIH: NIH Budget – Research for the People.” National Institutes of Health (NIH) Website. http://www.nih.gov/about/budget.htm.  Retrieved March 9, 2013.
3.   Vergano, Dan.   “Science Faces Sequestration Cuts.”  USA Today.  February 25, 2013. Website.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2013/02/25/budget-nih-collins/1947277/.  Retrieved March 9, 2013.
4.   “NIH Operation Plan in the Event of a Sequestration.”  NIH Guide Notice Number NOT-OD-13-043.  February 21, 2013. Web. http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-13-043.html. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
5.   “Mikulski Discusses Impacts of Sequester on Health, Innovation and Jobs at NIH. ” February 20, 2013. Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaMVjqBRmz0. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
6.   “Senator Barbara Mikulski, Dr. Francis Collins Discuss Impact Of Sequester at National Institutes of Health.” National Institutes of Health. Video. Web. http://videocast.nih.gov/launch.asp?17817.  Retrieved March 10, 2013.
7.   “The National Institutes of Health – A Review of Its Reforms, Priorities, and Progress.”  House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing Testimony.  June 21, 2012.  Video. Website. http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/national-institutes-health-%E2%80%93-review-its-reforms-priorities-and-progress. Retrieved March 10, 2013.



Categories: Biomedical Science

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3 replies

  1. When are the politicians going to get their act together? This game of chicken needs to stop.

Trackbacks

  1. Sequestration Deadline… Health Care Cost Effected But How Badly? | Just Spit It Out Already!
  2. The Ugly Truth – NIH Budget Cuts, Dispirited Scientists, and Patients in Peril « MSP3 – The Policy Cafe

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