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Measuring Sequestration's Impact

The US National Institutes of Health has issued a reminder that the ongoing sequestration cut of five percent to its budget, which amounted to nearly $1.6 billion in 2013, will lead to delays in advances of biomedical breakthroughs, such as research into a universal flu vaccine, or the prevention of chronic conditions, and common and rare diseases.

However, the agency has managed to fund a few more grants than it had previously estimated, according to an update to its factsheet detailing the impact of the sequestration. NIH said in June that it expected to fund around 700 fewer competitive research project grants in 2013, but now says it has only funded 640 fewer grants.

Still, the NIH information sheet provides a glimpse into some of the difficulties it faces under the cut, which will cause the NIH Clinical Center to admit around 750 fewer patients than it did in 2012.

The deep sequestration cuts are not only leading to fewer grants and patient admittances, but also to smaller budgets for projects that have already been funded.

NIH says it still expects that noncompeting research grants to be reduced by an average of around 4.7 percent, although the amount of the reduction for each grant may vary depending on the project and the discretion of the institute or center funding it.

The agency also says that all of the areas of scientific research it funds are being impacted, and that its intramural research programs took a hit this past year because a full year's worth of cuts had to be implemented over a half-year's time, due to the retroactive nature of the sequestration in the last fiscal year.