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In the Public Square

About 100 organizations are planning a 'Rally for Medical Research' for the beginning of April to protest sequestration cuts' effects on biomedical research.

Jon Retzlaff, the managing director for science policy at the American Association for Cancer Research, one of the organizations involved, tells Nature Medicine's Spoonful of Medicine blog that the rally aims to remind the US Congress that funding the National Institutes of Health should be a priority. The sequester, which went into effect at the beginning of this month, will lead to about a 5 percent, or $1.6 billion, cut to the NIH budget. The rally coincides with AACR's annual meeting in DC.

"Making the NIH a national priority will require the members of [Congress] to step up and say this is an area like we had 10-15 years ago with John Porter [former congressman and chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services subcommittee] in the House and Senators Arlen Specter and Tom Harkin, who together doubled NIH's budget over a five year period and said that the NIH needs to be one of the nation's priorities," Retzlaff tells the Spoonful of Medicine blog.

Retzlaff adds that he expects at least 10,000 people to show up.