Science and Medicine Feeling the Sequester's Pinch

Sep 5 2013

Science and Medicine Feeling the Sequester's Pinch

Phil Johnson, MD
Chief Scientific Officer
Executive Vice President, Translational Medicine and Science
Director, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute

sequesterEvery new medicine, medical technology, or treatment we rely on today – ones that we take for granted when we walk into a pharmacy to fill a prescription or to purchase pain relievers – stems from one collective source: research.  It is intrinsic to the advancement of healthcare. Without research there would be no new treatments or cures.

Concerns about the impact of the sequestration on science have been gaining momentum in recent weeks.  Yesterday, David Firestone of the New York Times wrote in the paper’s “Taking Note” blog that the sequester means that “science is falling behind, delaying promising results and discouraging young scientists, who are leaving the field.”

He further noted that the automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts that are affecting myriad government agencies like the National Institutes of Health have “produced shock waves that will continue harming the country for years to come, because researchers operate on long-term schedules and need a reliable stream of revenue to produce results.”

The sequester could not be more ill-timed in the world of biomedical research.  Now, as never before, investigators are embarking on a revolutionary period in science. We are harnessing the knowledge of the human genome, embracing cutting-edge technologies, and leading the way in “outside the box” thinking and research programs – all of which help improve the health of people around the world. sequester

Programs like those at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute and at hundreds of other hospitals, universities, and research centers around the United States are feeling the tremendous impact from the federally imposed sequester. Promising research projects are being shelved because of the funding cuts imposed by the sequester. And the sequestration may discourage the next generation of scientists.  Many brilliant minds with budding research programs that could further advance science and healthcare are struggling to find a foothold on the shifting landscape of biomedical research.

In the end, the world’s population at large will suffer the greatest loss because it means the delay of new treatments and cures for diseases.

What can you do? Contact your senators and representatives and tell them that NIH funding is critical to the advancement of science and health for everyone. Tell them to stop the across-the-board cuts to NIH.  Tell them your vote is at stake. The louder we speak, the greater impact we can have.

You can find your representatives and senators here.