Tag Archives: grants

Share Your Story: How You Can Fight for Tomorrow’s Medical Breakthroughs

By Endocrine Society President Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD

Teresa WoodruffThe sad stories flow in each day. A post-doctoral fellow gives up scientific research after 10 years of training. A cancer researcher faces a fruitless job search and expiring visa. The endocrinologist agonizes over letting a long-time lab employee go.

Hundreds of these tales are unfolding across the country as the National Institutes of Health struggles to stretch its dwindling budget. Because of sequestration, an NIH budget that barely kept pace with inflation through the 1990s and early 2000s was slashed by another $1.6 billion this fiscal year. If Congress cannot agree on a more balanced approach to budget cuts, another $6.7 billion in needed biomedical research funding will disappear in Fiscal Year 2014. The NIH funding cuts are nothing short of a disaster for biomedical science in the United States, as the Society journal Endocrinology’s Editor-in-Chief Andrea C. Gore observed in a recent editorial.

It is disheartening to think of the treatments that won’t be developed, the discoveries that won’t be made and the patients who will suffer as a result of Congress’ short-sighted funding decisions. As president of The Endocrine Society, I saw firsthand at the Society’s annual meeting ENDO 2013 just how many breakthroughs our researchers are making to ultimately improve the lives of people who have conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders and cancer. Without biomedical research funding, promising scientific avenues won’t be explored and fewer new treatments will be available to patients in the years to come.

In my own lab at Northwestern University, we instituted a hiring freeze after our grant award was halved. Now we won’t be able to investigate some key questions, such as how endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our environment impact reproductive health.

But there are actions we as researchers and scientists can take to avert the worst effects of this crisis. Congress and the public need to know how much pain the sequester is causing by delaying breakthroughs in treating infertility, heart disease and metabolic disorders. Congress should reverse course. Take a moment to share your story with your Members of Congress, your hometown newspaper, or a health organization like The Endocrine Society, Research!America or United for Medical Research. By raising our voices as one, we can rewrite the story’s ending and protect our nation’s biomedical research legacy.

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Federal sequestration hits home for university researchers

Excerpt of an article published by the South Bend Tribune on the devastating effects of mandatory federal budget cuts to university researchers, especially at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend.

Professors at research institutions across the country are wondering which of their projects will be reduced in scope or eliminated as a result of the mandatory federal budget cuts known as sequestration, which took effect March 1.

Among those wondering and worrying are researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend.

Some already have gotten word that grants they sought won’t be funded because of the federal cuts.

Sequestration “isn’t like a cliff. It’s going to happen relatively slowly over a two- or three-year period,” said Robert Bernhard, Notre Dame’s vice president for research.

Notre Dame’s research expenditures from external sources in fiscal year 2012 were about $104 million, with $83 million coming from federal dollars. Continue reading →

Cuts in research funding undermine medical innovation

Op-ed by The Honorable John Edward Porter, Research!America Chair and former U.S. Representative (1980 – 2001) published in McClatchy-Tribune newspapers, including the Great Falls Tribune, News & Observer, Times Herald Record and Billings Gazette.

John Edward PorterThe health of Americans and future generations is at risk. This seems incredulous given our track record in medical discoveries that improved health care and saved lives over the years. But our nation’s research ecosystem is now in a precarious state as a result of federal policies and proposals that continue to undermine medical innovation.

Sequestration, the across-the-board spending cuts for federal agencies, is a self-inflicted wound on our country and the pain is acutely felt by patients who cannot afford unnecessary delays in the development of new therapies and cures for their illnesses.

In short, the entire country is hurting and as much as we would like to believe medical progress will continue unabated, we must accept the inevitable consequence of sequestration and other federal actions that muzzle research and innovation – needless deaths, economic decline and challenges to our global competitiveness.

The current political environment lends itself to ideological battles that ignore national priorities. Those battles are draining the budgets of federal agencies that are critical to the sustainment of basic research and private sector innovation. Medical research, which has received overwhelming bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, is now caught in the crossfire of extreme partisanship and illogical decision-making. Continue reading →

Budget sequestration could soon cost us in lives

An excerpt of an op-ed by Robert I. Field, PhD, JD, MPH, professor of the Earle Mack School of Law & Drexel School of Public Health published in Philly.com.

Robert I. Field

Robert I. Field, PhD, JD, MPH

What do we get when Congress cuts federal spending across-the-board? Does it bring lower taxes, smaller deficits, and less bureaucracy?

How about worse health care, less medical innovation, and lost lives?

The budget sequester that Congress enacted in 2011 began to take effect this year with spending cuts for most federal programs. So far, the majority of Americans have seen little change. Some may even applaud the idea of forcing the federal government to make due with less.

But the sequester is about to exert an especially sinister effect that lies just outside of public view. It could cripple medical research.

The National Institutes of Health is the largest single source of biomedical research funding in the world. It supports work at most universities in the United States and at many around the world.

That’s not just important to the physicians and researchers who work at those institutions. It’s vitally important to everyone. NIH funding stands behind the development of almost every major drug that has emerged over the past 50 years. You can see the impact of this agency every time you open your medicine cabinet. It has also brought us countless medical devices and procedures. And led to 83 Nobel prizes. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Misleading titles, or misunderstanding of science, or both?

Dear Research Advocate,

House of Representatives Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) proposed legislation, the “High Quality Research Act,” would undermine, rather than achieve, “high quality” in research, since it would create several new hoops for approval of NSF-funded grants. These appear to be based on the mistaken idea that science follows a linear path to a single metric for success or failure. And the bill requires the NSF director to attest in advance to the success of each funded proposal! Letters penned by former NSF directors and National Science Board chairs and former NSF assistant directors warn of the “chilling and detrimental impact” this legislation could have on the current merit-based system. In order to rebuff this outright attack on science, many more advocates must weigh in. The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) will send a letter addressing the concerns of shifting away from “scientific merit” as the ultimate criteria for determining which science to fund. If you are a part of an organization that would like to sign on to this letter, please contact Sam Rankin. Or write your own. In any case, join us in taking action!

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) new bill, H.R. 1724, known as the “Kids First Research Act of 2013,” aims to “eliminate taxpayer financing of presidential campaigns and party conventions and reprogram savings to provide for a 10-year pediatric research initiative …” The bill’s text would limit scientific freedom, as Section 4 is a ban on NIH-funded health economics research. Health economics research is crucial to efficient, effective health care and health care systems, and it also has a significant role to play in ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of research itself. Especially if you perform, benefit from or use findings from health economics research, but also if you care about the future of science, please reach out to your elected officials to call for eliminating Section 4 of H.R. 1724. Continue reading →