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Blow to Funds and Morale

If the sequestration cuts go into effect at the beginning of March, it will be a "profound and devastating blow" to biomedical research in the US, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins tells Politico. The original deadline to avoid those cuts was at the beginning of January, but lawmakers were able to come to an agreement to delay their enactment.

Politico notes that the NIH budget grew rapidly, nearly doubling, between 1998 and 2003, though that expansion slowed in 2004. In 2011, it was cut by 1.5 percent. Thought its budget has mainly seen increases, Collins notes that inflation has affected the agency's purchasing power.

If sequestration goes into effect, NIH will face a 6.4 percent cut to its budget.

This, he adds, will affect research grants, making them even harder to come by. The funding rate used to be one in three, Collins says, but now it is one in six. "For people who are in the early stage of their career to just miss the pay line once, twice, three times is pretty demoralizing," he adds. "And they are getting demoralized."

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.