Biomedical Researchers Rally for Funds

Crowds flooded into a Washington, DC, park to protest NIH budget cuts and rally for greater investment in potentially life-saving biomedical research. 

By | April 10, 2013

AACRThousands of researchers and advocates gathered this week (April 8) in downtown Washington, DC—where the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is currently holding its annual meeting—to protest recent cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget and demand more funds for basic biomedical research.

Hordes of scientists made their way across the road from the Washington Convention Center, where National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus had just concluded his talk on the agency’s current strategies in the fight against cancer, to the public square around the Carnegie Library. There, dozens of speakers—including scientists, politicians, and patient advocates—took to the stage to address the sun-soaked crowds.

Lamenting the 5 percent cut to the NIH’s $31 billion annual budget imposed by Congress last month through sequestration, AACR CEO Margaret Foti declared that “the continued erosion of funding for the most important medical research institute in the world, the National Institutes of Health, must stop.”

And Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn), herself an ovarian cancer survivor, drew huge cheers from the crowd when she proclaimed, “Lifesaving cancer research is being cut because of ideology, and that’s wrong. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer when you go up to Capitol Hill. Tell them to cut the oil and gas subsidies and the tax breaks that send our jobs overseas, but not the biomedical research that saves our lives.”

Rockefeller University President Mark Tessier-Lavigne described some of the advances made over the past decade thanks to government-funded research, but added that the huge challenges remaining can only be overcome if scientists are properly funded. “The only way to contain the human and economic impact of these diseases is through sustained investment in science,” he said. Tessier-Lavigne also pointed out that the rising costs of care for diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s will outstrip the investment required for scientists to generate new treatments and potential cures.

Finally, noting that the NIH has lost 20 percent of its spending power over the past decade, resulting in a all-time record low for grant approval rates, Tessier-Lavigne raised concerns that limited resources will dissuade the next generation of scientists from entering the field—and could have a disastrous effect on research. “Make no mistake, it is possible to ruin our scientific community,” he said. “If we continue on this path, we will kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”

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Avatar of: Mark Riggle

Mark Riggle

Posts: 3

April 10, 2013

Really, a 5% cut will "kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”?  I assume this is an evidence backed assertion:  How many gloden egg laying geese were lost in this study? 

Avatar of: Kathy Barker

Kathy Barker

Posts: 44

April 11, 2013

WIth health care and health care costs the way they are in the USA, there are many, many people who will not enjoy the fruits of scientists' research, no matter how much money is put into that research. 

I don't think scientists are doing themselves any favors with non-scientists by not discussing the inequities in health care, or the funds that are spent on war. If they don't address this, aren't they merely competing with kindergartens and the elderly and ill and uninsured people for money? Funding research should be part of a larger package of a moral budget that addresses peoples' needs now as well as in the future.

April 18, 2013

For many people where the only contact with medical science they may ever have when or where it may come many simple ideas like these make many friends some simple ideas of finance could help patient/researcher and other personell where contact with medical services is seldom such technical advice they may never have had until now, could actually help to balance the budget. However with these specialized intformational functions, results therefore may vary.

Avatar of: Taxpayer


Posts: 14

April 18, 2013

Sorry to say, only 1-2 out of 10 clinical studies produces a useful result. Thus, is research an investment or gambling? Perhaps sequestration will force everyone to think more carefully where they are spending our money!

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