A new report recently released and supported by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) details the crippling effects of sequestration on programs that rely on discretionary federal funding, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Safe,” NDD United, an alliance of more than 3,200 national, state, and local organizations working to stop needless cuts to core government functions, goes sector by sector detailing the stories of those who have been affected by sequestration.
ASH is a member of the NDD United alliance and represents more than 14,000 hematologists worldwide, many of whom heavily rely on NIH funding to conduct cutting-edge research that results in cures and better treatments for millions of patients with blood diseases and cancer. In FY 2013, NIH awarded 640 fewer competitive research grants than in FY2012, some of which are in hematology.
Devastating Impact of Budget Cuts
The “Faces of Austerity” report released recently features a quote from ASH member Giuseppina Nucifora, PhD, of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, about the devastating impacts the budget cuts have had on hematology research. In a testimonial originally published in The Huffington Post and reprinted in the report, Dr. Nucifora writes that her lab “has unfortunately lost the 20-year continuous NIH support for research on a disease that affects the blood cells of mostly older patients.”
Dr. Nucifora is one of 29 recipients to date of a special ASH Bridge Grant Award created to help sustain critical blood disease research amid severe NIH budget cuts and to support researchers who recently applied for NIH funds but, despite high scores, did not make the pay line. As an ASH Bridge Grant recipient, Dr. Nucifora has received $100,000 from the Society to help her bolster her application and bridge her to receipt of her next NIH grant. While programs like this may provide temporary relief, they will not solve the problem of inadequate NIH funding plaguing the U.S. biomedical research enterprise.
“Continued, devastating cuts to NIH due to sequestration and years of flat funding pose a significant threat to medical research in the United States, forcing researchers to slow or stop their critical work and even persuading talented investigators to abandon biomedical research as a career path,” said ASH President Janis Abkowitz, MD, of the University of Washington.
“Faces of Austerity” is available online at www.nddunited.org. ■