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Archive for the ‘life science funding’ Category

Majority of Americans believe another government shutdown likely in coming months

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-03-2013

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans say it’s likely there will be another government shutdown in the months ahead as Congress continues to debate deficit and budget issues, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America and the American Society of Hematology. This sentiment is shared across party affiliations: Democrats (66%), Republicans (65%) and Independents (65%). There is also consensus across party lines that government dysfunction has consequences. A majority of Americans (57%) say the shutdown in October caused significant harm to many government-funded programs including medical research, defense and education. Democrats (68%) and about half of Republicans (49%) and Independents (51%) agree.

On the topic of sequestration, a plurality (44%) says Congress must tackle tax and entitlement reform to reduce the deficit instead of continuing the 10 years of across-the-board cuts; another 16% say sequestration is not the right way to reduce the deficit. Less than a quarter (23%) believe the across-the-board cuts are a way of ensuring that many government programs share the pain, and 17% say they’re not sure. In general, 62% of Americans say they’re concerned about the long-term effects of sequestration on advances in health care such as the development of new drugs and other treatments.

“Our poll demonstrates uneasiness among many Americans about the ramifications of deep spending cuts to programs that are critical to our health and well-being,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Americans want Congress to reach a budget deal that protects medical and health research, at least in part because of concern that our nation is at risk of losing our global leadership position in science and innovation.”

The poll shows nearly three-quarters (73%) of Americans doubt the U.S. will be the number one world leader in science and technology in 2020, a significant increase from the percentage that doubted U.S. leadership last year (59%). In addition, one-third of respondents believe China will surpass the U.S. in six years. Another 30% are not sure which country will lead in science in 2020. Many believe the federal government must increase investments in medical and health research now to ensure that the U.S. can compete globally (61%), and a vast majority (84%) think it’s important for the U.S. to lead in medical, health and scientific research.

The current level of federal spending for research to combat disease leaves many Americans on edge. Upon hearing the U.S. spends about 5 cents of each health dollar on research and development to prevent, cure and treat disease and disability, nearly half (49%) say it’s not enough. Where the additional funds would come from is another question. A plurality (43%) of Americans states its willingness to pay $1 per week more in taxes if the respondents were certain that all of the money would be spent on additional medical research, with 34% not willing and another 23% uncertain about additional taxes for research.

“By cutting federal funding for research supported by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, we are literally putting lifesaving research on hold,” said Janis Abkowitz, MD, president of the American Society of Hematology, the world’s largest association of blood specialists. “As someone who has seen firsthand how scientific breakthroughs have led to better treatments for patients with blood diseases, it is encouraging to see that voters view medical research funding as a key issue when deciding who will get their vote.”

Looking ahead to the midterm elections, about two-thirds of respondents (66%) say it’s important for candidates running for office to assign a high priority to funding medical research. More than half (53%) do not believe elected officials in Washington are paying enough attention to combating the many deadly diseases that afflict Americans.

Among other findings:

  • 70% say basic scientific research that advances the frontiers of knowledge is necessary and should be supported by the federal government, even if it brings no immediate benefits.
  • Upon hearing the federal government spends approximately $100 per American per year on medical research on all diseases and disabilities, about half (46%) say that’s not enough.
  • 79% say it’s important that our nation supports research that focuses on improving how our health care system is functioning.
  • 75% of Americans say it’s important to invest in research for job creation and economic recovery.
  • 54% say the cost of health care is the single most important health issue facing the nation.
  • 51% say research to improve health is part of the solution to rising health care costs.
  • 75% say it’s important to conduct medical or health research to understand and eliminate health disparities.

The nationwide survey was conducted by Zogby Analytics for Research!America and the American Society of Hematology. The margin of error is +/-3.2 percentage points. To view the poll, visit: http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/Nov13nationalpollwithASH.pdf

Thank you to Research!America for this story.

Guess Who Else Will be Hurt by Sequestration?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-19-2013

Elliott Negin, Director of News and Commentary for the Union of Concerned Scientists, recently wrote an article in the Huffinton Post warning of the dire financial impact that the recent government shutdown and almost-year-long sequester will have on industry and the private sector.

On many occasions we have discussed how recent government actions are harming academic science in the United States, but we have never discussed what consequences it may have on industry. In general, when one thinks about government funding, university labs and research institutes come to mind. That certainly makes sense as thoughts of the NIH shuttering their doors for several weeks is still fresh in our minds. However, as Negin writes, research and discovery in academia and government laboratories are often the catalyst for industry and commercialization. Take away government research and you will definitely harm the downstream commercial environment.

As Negin writes:

The sequester, and inconsistent funding by a fickle Congress is taking its toll on the public scientific enterprise

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What are your thoughts on this connection? Do you believe that poor government policy will have a significant impact on the commercial sector?

To read Negin’s commentary visit Don’t take federal science for granted.

One Month Left to Win $5,000 from FASEB

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-30-2013

What a great initiative by FASEB. You can win $5,000 while helping science at the same time. Enter the contest today!

Sequestration Explained in Two Minutes

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-28-2013

We’ve posted several articles about sequestration over the past few months (see 12,000 Labs to Close Due to Sequestration, Sequestration May Mean Years of Research Wasted, Sequestration Will Result in $9.5 Billion Cut to Science Funding, Obama Blasts Congress Over Sequestration’s Impact on Science, Save us from Sequestration!, Is the American Government Killing Science? and Poor Morale Continues Among Scientists Despite End to Government Shutdown.

However, one question that we never answered is:

What exactly IS Sequestration?

Thankfully, the Huffington Post attempted to give an answer before us. Below is their response.

Poor Morale Continues Among Scientists Despite End to Government Shutdown

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-21-2013

After failing to enact legislation on the 2014 fiscal budget, the US government shutdown and furloughed approximately 800,000 federal workers. For seventeen nerve-racking days in October, (October 1-17), many routine government services were closed, costing the economy a whopping $24 Billion dollars. While the shutdown affected many public services and universities, it had a particularly crippling effect on one of America’s largest research institutes, the National Institute of Health. Despite the fact that the shutdown ended several days ago, many scientists continue to wonder what long-term impact the fiasco will have on their funding. Considering that the NIH supports more than 50% of American research projects, this question is completely justified.

In an article posted to the NIH website on October 17th, Sally Rockey, the NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, inforomed scientists that October grant submission deadlines will be rescheduled to November and missed reviews may or may not be rescheduled depending on the particular reviewer’s personal situation.

How do scientists feel about this setback? From the comments posted to the NIH blog, not very happy.

One PI wonders if it is even worth applying for NIH funding for the coming year. He correctly states that although the shutdown has ended, the sequester continues to loom large and hasn’t left much hope for scientists looking for grants in 2014. Even more worryingly, the commenter tells us of the impact that the shutdown/sequester has had on the next generation of American scientists which his best junior scientist moving to Malta where she has been promised more lucrative scientific funding.

Another scientists worries that:

five month delay in grant reviews may be career-ending for many scientists

Or as another scientist wrote:

Years of preparations by researchers who’s careers are dependent on these reviews will be put in peril because the agency closed for a couple of weeks

Will American science ever recover from these setbacks? How long can we sustain our position as a world leader in scientific discovery? If the responses from NIH scientists are any indication, we are entering a deep dark tunnel and it may take us years to dig out.