Congress Should Reconsider Budget Cuts For Biomedical Research

“Besides the prospect of a government shutdown or a default on the national debt, the most destructive aspect of the federal budget impasse is the sequester’s damage to basic scientific research, especially biomedical research,” Roll Call columnist Morton Kondracke writes in the news service’s “Beltway Insiders” blog. “The sequester demand[ed] a five percent cut across the board at every one of the NIH’s 27 institutes and research centers, including the one concentrating on infectious diseases,” he states, adding the cuts are slowing “work on a universal flu vaccine that could prevent a pandemic killing millions.” He notes cancer research “has slowed, too, because of cuts at the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute.”

NIH Director Francis Collins “told me he has met with more than 100 members of Congress to plead for an undoing of the sequester,” Kondracke writes, noting, “The Senate Democratic budget does it.” He adds, “Collins said that most House Republicans tell him, ‘You’re right, but there’s not much I can do.’ They certainly ought to try.” He concludes, “As Collins says, this could be ‘the century of biology,’ leading to the conquest of major diseases and the development of new energy and food sources. But it won’t be America’s century if the government keeps slashing research” (9/17).