US official: Cuts put key medical research at risk (Update)

February 14, 2013 by Lauran Neergaard

(AP)—Better cancer drugs that zero in on a tumor with fewer side effects. A universal flu vaccine that could fight every strain of influenza without needing a yearly shot.

Research into potentially life-saving products like these will be delayed and newer discoveries shelved if Congress can't avert impending budget cuts that the director of the National Institutes of Health warns will have far-reaching effects.

"All diseases will feel the consequences, I'm afraid," Dr. Francis Collins told The Associated Press.

"We're in this amazing revolution," Collins added. The faster promising leads are funded, "the more lives are saved."

The NIH, the leading funder of biomedical research, will lose $1.6 billion this year, about 5.1 percent of its budget, if automatic cuts go through next month, Collins said.

That means hundreds of medical research projects around the country may go unfunded, while multi-year projects already under way could be scaled back. The ripple effect, Collins said: About 20,000 jobs nationwide could be lost in university and other research laboratories nationwide.

NIH's budget hasn't kept pace with inflation over the past decade, resulting in what Collins calculates is a 20 percent erosion in the agency's buying power during a time of unprecedented scientific discovery. A decade ago, NIH was funding about 1 in every 3 grant applications. Today that's dropped to 1 in 6, before the upcoming cuts.

President Barack Obama argued the economic value of preserving medical research in his State of the Union address, saying every dollar the government invested to map the human genome returned $140 to the economy.

Other health impacts from the planned cuts, as outlined in a letter to lawmakers by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:

—Health departments will give 424,000 fewer tests for the AIDS virus this year.

—About 7,400 fewer HIV patients will be able to get life-saving medication through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

—The Food and Drug Administration will conduct 2,100 fewer inspections of food manufacturing firms this year.

—More than 373,000 seriously ill people may not receive needed mental health services.

Also, Medicare, the government health care program for the elderly, is slated for a 2 percent cut in payments to service providers.

Explore further: Obama to seek more Alzheimer's research money

shares

Related Stories

Obama to seek more Alzheimer's research money

February 7, 2012
(AP) -- The Obama administration wants to spend just over half a billion dollars on Alzheimer's research next year, hoping to battle back against what could become the defining disease of the aging baby-boom generation.

Research funding slump alarms head of US cancer institutes

September 25, 2012
The head of the US National Cancer Institute warned Tuesday that the United States could lose its global leadership in research into the disease because of lower spending.

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.