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Rally for Medical Research-April 8, 2013

Why Medical Research is at Risk
 
Since the completion of the unprecedented doubling by Congress of the NIH budget in 2003, appropriations for the NIH have remained essentially flat. When one factors in the rate of biomedical inflation, the agency has effectively lost approximately $6 billion, or 20 percent, in purchasing power and, therefore, its ability to fund lifesaving research. And as a result of Congress and the White House’s inability to reach agreement on a balanced alternative to deficit reduction, President Barack Obama recently signed an order authorizing the government to begin cutting $85 billion from federal agencies, officially enacting across-the-board reductions known as sequestration. Sequestration, originally slated to go into effect Jan. 2, was delayed two months with the hope that the new Congress might reach a more balanced and comprehensive budget agreement. With the enactment of these deep cuts last month, the NIH budget has been slashed by 5.1 percent or approximately $1.5 billion, and is currently funded at $29.1 billion.
 
NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., stated recently that the agency will try to “prioritize things that seem most promising, most critical to public health, but there’s no question there will be across-the-board damage to virtually everything.” Further, these cuts come at a time when scientific opportunity has never been greater, and administering a reduction of this scale in such a short time frame will be devastating to the biomedical science enterprise. As stated by several speakers at the rally, sequestration will require arbitrary funding cuts that will prevent critical research projects from reaching completion and will ensure that other potentially lifesaving research will not even get off the ground.
 
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