Blow to Funds and Morale

NIH Director Francis Collins discusses sequestration.

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The future of America's

The future of America's economy rests on our ability to be innovative. BTW, it always has. Automatic, accross the board reductions in research funding in all fields, not just biomedical R&D is not intelligent and fails to consider the value proposition and the quality issues that must be part of belt-tightening. Sizable reductions in biomedical research that could help reduce our heathcare financial burden is particularly dangerous given the high cost of healthcare in the US. The US public has suffered for years from a general lack of appreciation of the role of science and research in our global competitiveness and domestic quality of life. This is the time for us to think carefully about our public investments rather than just blind deficit cutting. The lazy indiscriminating way is the wrong way and it will nullify any deficit reductions in the short term by grave losses of opportunity going forward.

Should all publically funded research efforts be supported carte blanche. No! We need to scrutinize how effective such programs are in providing the benefits that we realistically expect as taxpayers. But it must be an educated approach rather than just a political debate.

While there are many excellent aspects of our publically funded scientific efforts they are not perfect and yes there are areas of waste and inefficiency. The NIH has been a major success story over the years but it still requires careful review. In some cases the science may be world class but there are real problems with the administrative and operational aspects that need improvement in order to maximize the benefit to taxpayers. In some cases the Directors are too inbread in the system to see such flaws. We need to consider reviews of such operations by non-traditional experts from outside the fold, in addition to Congress.

In any case, to reduce investment in research, as a general way to cut the deficit is a highly questionable and risky tactic that gambles at poor odds for our future as a nation and for our personal involvement with the wellbeing of the entire world.

One only has to look at other

One only has to look at other countries (i.e., China) and their recent government investment in science and R&D. With this funding trend and the continued message to scientists that your work is not that important (by congress), our competitive edge is slipping, maybe beyond the point of recovery within a few short years.