Questionable: Budget Crisis Hurts University Research Programs

Mar 10, 2013 by

Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Carol Greider used to have eight to 10 young researchers working in her university laboratory, but with U.S. government funds for scientific research shrinking in recent years, she’s gone down to four.

Sequestration, Washington’s name for $85 billion in federal spending cuts this year, promises to cut even deeper into Greider’s team at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She’s decided she cannot afford to hire “a promising young researcher” she wanted to add to her staff for the next academic year.

“I’m not sure in the current climate we have for research funding that I would have received funding to be able to do the work that led to the Nobel Prize,” Greider said at a National Institutes of Health (NIH) event last month, adding that her early work on enzymes and cell biology was well outside the mainstream. The NIH has been funding her research for the past 23 years.

Federally funded, university research has long been a major engine of scientific advancement, spurring innovations from cancer treatments to the seeds of technology companies like Google.

But now some of the largest U.S. research universities fear that spending cuts under sequestration could lead to layoffs, curtail scientific discovery and leave a generation with less access to careers in science, school officials said.

The across-the-board budget cuts, to be carried out by September 30, come on top of years of reductions in federal spending on research that have already had an impact on universities’ scientific exploration, officials from eight top research universities told Reuters.

via Budget Crisis Hurts University Research Programs.

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