Cancer research faces a number of obstacles — low research grants funding rates and a looming sequester deadline, decreased accuracy in published results — but National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus is still optimistic, reports the Nature News Blog. Varmus says that, if the budget sequester goes into effect, there will be a limit to how many new grants could be given out. "I have already promised a lot of [the existing $5 billion budget] to current grantees," Varmus says. "If our budget were reduced 8%, and we got $4.6 billion this year, and we didn't do anything else, do the math." However, he also says that he doesn't think the sequestration cuts will occur.
Additionally, Varmus says that there is a responsibility at a number of levels — institutions, investigators, NIH, and journals — to ensure that research is held to a high standard. "I mean, science, important science, is self-correcting. And I don't want to rely on self-correction all the time. I want standards. I want mentoring," he adds.