Science funding over the cliff

Jim Haber forwarded the following from the Coalition for the Life Sciences.

Nobel Laureates Warn Against Going over the Fiscal Cliff

Bethesda, Maryland – Nobel Laureates from across the country are warning Congressional leaders and President Obama about the danger the fiscal cliff poses to research and innovation.

Starting December 3, the Coalition for the Life Sciences has sent a letter a day from a Nobel Laureate in either Chemistry or Physiology and Medicine. Twenty Nobel Laureates are engaged in this campaign. In these letters, each Laureate emphasizes the importance of federally funded research and the dire consequences of funding cuts. Of particular concern, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will face an 8.2% across-the-board cut starting January 1, 2013, if Congress and the Administration refuse to agree on solutions to the fiscal cliff.

Coalition Board member H. Robert Horvitz, from MIT shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He said, “This potentially very deep cut to the NIH as well as to all other federally-funded science would negatively impact job creation and seriously jeopardize the long-standing leadership position of the U.S. in research and innovation.”


All the Nobel Laureates are concerned that cuts to the NIH will stifle discoveries that improve health, save lives, and drive our economy […]

the full release is on the Coalition for the Life Sciences website.

Brandeis goes to Capitol Hill

The vast majority of biomedical science research done in the United States is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). This research funding educates thousands of Ph.D. candidates in the U.S. each year that go on to do health research at universities, work in private sector biotechnology companies or become educators (among many other things). Given the tremendous impact government funded biomedical research has for advancing medical science, educating the workforce and underpinning the biotechnology sector, it is important for the American economy that government officials continue to support federal funding for NIH and NSF over the long-term.

Capitol HillOn September 12th a Brandeis University delegation was invited to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. by the Coalition for Life Sciences to meet with Massachusetts representatives. The purpose of the delegation was to advocate for continued support for biomedical research funding in this time of national financial uncertainty. Massachusetts receives the 2nd most NIH funding after California, an impressive statistic considering that California has approximately 5 times the population of the Bay State and highlighting how important the academic and biotechnology sectors are to the local economy.

MarkeyThe delegation consisted of a Brandeis graduate student (Mike Spellberg), a Brandeis post-doctoral researcher (Tilman Kispersky) and a licensing associate from the Brandeis technology transfer office (Christine Taft). These three people are at different stages of their scientific careers and will likely participate in the scientific community and the Massachusetts economy in very different ways. However, they all shared a history of funding from the NIH. Throughout the day on Capitol Hill the Brandeis team met with Congressional staffers including those from Rep. Barney Frank’s and Senator John Kerry’s offices. During meetings, the Brandeis team thanked the staff for the strong support from Massachusetts elected representatives for the NIH over the years. Specific funding priorities, like additional support for young investigators, were suggested and discussed as highly effective methods to support biomedical research long-term. At the end of the day, the delegation had a meeting with Rep. Edward Markey’s staff. Brandeis is a part of Rep. Markey’s district and we were fortunate enough to meet the Congressman personally. Rep. Markey noted his interest in Neuroscience and talked about his strong support for adequate funding for the NIH. In return, we extended an invitation to Rep. Markey to visit research labs at Brandeis.

Throughout the day and with the training from the Coalition for Life Sciences, the delegation learned about public policy, science advocacy and got an inside view of how legislation is crafted and federal funding decisions are made. The opportunity to advocate for science and science funding on behalf of Brandeis and the research community was an excellent experience.

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