The ongoing uncertainty over federal funding could lead to a brain drain that may undermine medical and scientific progress in the US, The Baltimore Sun reported. As funding for research increases worldwide and remains at a standstill in the US, some scientists are choosing to go overseas — young researchers may be especially at risk.
Federal agencies are bracing for $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration. The NIH may take a $1.5 billion cut of its $31 billion budget. At a press conference, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, said, “If this $1.5 billion cut hits us on March 1st, that translates into hundreds of grants that would have been funded in this fiscal year that simply will not get paid.
“The way which the sequester hits NIH, each one of our 27 institutes and centers has to take an equivalent cut of 5.1%. So that means this will hit cancer, it will hit heart disease, it will hit diabetes, HIV aids, it will hit Alzheimer’s, it will hit all those areas…I can't tell you of the hundreds of grants that don't get funded exactly which ones those will be.”
Perhaps the biggest concern about the implications of these cuts, Dr. Collins added, is what they will mean for young scientists. “Among the other things that will happen is, our training grants will be cut. Individuals who are maybe going to be offered positions to come and work in training programs won't get those offers.
“All of us advising young people in college or starting graduate school about careers are having a harder and harder time telling them that the opportunities are limitless. Right now they don't seem limitless, right now we have a hard time convincing people who are getting into this field that there's a career path for them,” he added.
Watch the full video cast of Senator Barbara Mikulski and Dr. Francis Collins discussing the impact of sequester at National Institutes of Health on Feb. 19 at http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?Live=12562.
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