Tag Archives: Spain

Does Spanish Austerity Provide a Glimpse into the Future of American Research?

Spain’s economy was harshly affected by the 2008 financial crisis and, later, the eurozone crisis. (Just this week, the country’s budget minister said Spain has reached a turning point and may at last be emerging from its financial troubles.) Its efforts to slash government spending left few unaffected, and a recent article by Agence France-Presse detailed the effects on Spanish researchers.

The Prince Felipe Research Center, in the coastal city of Valencia, lost around half of its funding from the Spanish government; as a result, it closed half of its 28 labs and let go 114 workers. María Jesus Vicent told the wire service that her lab had made great strides in prostate cancer research, but there’s no money to move forward into animal testing.

The fallout is obvious: fewer people employed (in a country that already has a staggering unemployment rate) and medical breakthroughs left on the shelf. Less obvious is this anecdote from the story, which demonstrates a near elimination of return on investment: “Now the center’s hi-tech installations are falling into disuse, with its two mechanized operating theaters for animal research now being used for training courses instead.” Continue reading →

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: “Ordinary Americans” at risk

Dear Research Advocate:

Yesterday, I joined Diane Rehm and other guests on her nationally syndicated radio program to discuss how sequestration impacts “ordinary Americans.” I was struck by how deep and distressing the damage is, in so many sectors, including but not limited to our own. Yet somehow the pain is not acute enough to force action.

What strikes me is how low our collective expectations have sunk when it comes to reinvigorating U.S. economic growth and prosperity. Our nation can do better; why don’t we maintain high expectations and hold our elected officials accountable for setting the policy stage to accomplish them? Policy makers should protect discretionary spending, make hard tax and entitlement reform decisions, and commit to policies that foster economic growth and societal (including health) progress. Part of that equation is ample, stable federal funding for medical research and policies that spur private sector medical innovation.

A glimmer of hope for policies creating such an environment can be seen in the Senate agricultural appropriations bill, which provides the FDA an increase of $96 million above FY13 and full access to collected user fees, previously subject to sequestration. The House also provides a modest increase for FDA. But don’t jump for joy; these increases still leave FDA worse off than FY12 and grossly underfunded. That we think of this as an increase is another example of lowered expectations. Meanwhile, the Senate 302(b) allocation levels for FY14 appropriations were adopted today. As expected, the Labor/H budget is significantly higher than the House’s. The Senate and House numbers are so far apart that reconciliation seems unlikely; the odds are still on flat funding minus sequestration. This is a low-expectation, low-outcome scenario, to be sure, and we should all fight against it. If we don’t, “ordinary Americans” will continue to suffer. Continue reading →