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Scientists See US Research Slipping

The swift-striking cuts caused by the sequestration and the longer term dwindling of budgets at US science funding agencies are taking a toll, as a majority of US scientists are now receiving less federal funding than they were three years ago, and nearly 20 percent of them are considering seeking science work abroad, Huffington Post's Sam Stein writes.

Stein cites a new report from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which surveyed 3,700 scientists in all 50 states and found a darkening outlook for US government-funded science.

According to the ASBMB, 80 percent of survey respondents report spending more time writing grants now than they were in 2010, and 67 percent said they are receiving less grant funding.

“For the first time, we are able to definitively tell the story of the federally funded scientist,” says Benjamin Corb, public affairs director for ASBMB, in a statement. “The data shows that deep cuts to federal investments in research are tearing at the fabric of the nation’s scientific enterprise and have a minimal impact on overcoming our national debt and deficit problems."

The survey finds that the budget cuts are hindering research plans and are affecting the number of investigators who are doing science.

More than two-thirds of the survey respondents say they do not have the money to expand their research operations, nearly half of them report that they have laid off research staff, 53 percent say they have turned away promising young researchers, and 55 percent have colleagues who have lost jobs.

The sagging structure of US science has not been buttressed by private investments, the report finds, as only 2 percent of its respondents have been able to cobble together other funds to make up for the loss of federal money.

The funding environment has begun to impact scientists' attitudes, inducing a gloomy outlook over the state of US science broadly, according to ABSMB.

The survey finds that 85 percent of respondents believe that reduced US science spending has allowed global competitors to catch up to and even surpass the US in scientific research, and 18 percent say they are considering pursuing their research careers in another country.