NIH cuts endanger biotech breakthroughs

As health crisis continues, federal government cutting back on research funding. The fear is that the best and the brightest will pursue other opportunities.

NIH will receive $35 million less in 2006 than it did last year. Those cuts will be especially painful for biomedicine, Techology Review reports today. The budget effectively moves the agency back to 2003 funding levels, with the result that only one out of 10 grant proposals will be funded, versus three out of 10 in '03. While the agency is slated for a five percent increase in '07, no one really knows how much will be slated until the budget comes out later this week.

"There were great opportunities unleashed by the doubling of the budget [between 1998 and 2003]," says Bruce Bistrian, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a coalition of research societies based in Bethesda, MD. "When you dramatically withdraw support, it has a disproportionate effect on the young, who don't have the wherewithal to weather the storm."

"We're facing a serious crisis that may end up culling some of the very best people out of the biomedical research enterprise," says Jack Feldman, a biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. "There will be people who lose all funding or have gaps in funding so they can't maintain the infrastructure they've built."

 

 

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