NIH funding flat as research dollars harder to come by

| March 12, 2008

        The AP (3/12, Miga) reports that, testifying before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust said "that five straight years of virtually flat funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has deterred young researchers at premier academic research institutions." Moreover, Faust’s report, produced in collaboration with "seven academic research institutions," indicates that the "lack of adequate funding is ‘having a cascading impact that is slowing progress, and threatening future research that could lead to cures or even ways to prevent disease.’"

        Bloomberg (3/10, Goldstein) noted that according to the report titled "A Broken Pipeline? Flat Funding of the NIH Puts a Generation of Science at Risk," researchers at "Harvard, Brown, Duke, Ohio State (OSU), and Vanderbilt universities, the University of California-Los Angeles, and hospitals of Partners Healthcare in Boston" say that the Bush Administration "blunted" the growth that occurred between 1998 and 2003 when "the NIH budget doubled to $26.7 billion."

        In the Boston Globe‘s (3/11) White Coat Notes blog, Elizabeth Cooney wrote that the funding cap resulted "in a 13 percent loss in dollars over the last five years when inflation is taken into account," and "[t]hat means grant reviews take longer, and the dollar awards are smaller." According to the report, the "average age of a first-time grant winner is 43, up from 39 in 1990," and "[f]irst submissions of grant applications succeed 12 percent of the time, down from 29 percent in 1999." Faust also said that laboratories "are shrinking, research is slowing, and less ambitious projects are being proposed in this chillier climate."

        An article appearing on the ABC (3/11, Barrett) website quotes Faust as saying, "Where will we be in ten years if we discourage a generation of trailblazers?" Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Congressional committee, "was receptive Tuesday to increasing the $28 billion NIH budget, but he acknowledged he’ll need to convince his colleagues to make it a priority."

        HealthDay‘s Health Highlights section noted that Faust concluded, "This is about the investment that America is — or is not — making in the health of its citizens and its economy." North Carolina’s News & Observer (3/11, Simmons) and Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch (3/11, HoHolik) also covered the story.

Category: Government

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