NJ Medical Research in Jeopardy [AUDIO]
Medical research conducted at Rutgers, Princeton University and other institutions in New Jersey is in jeopardy under sequestration in Washington.
Innovative studies that could lead to cures for life-threatening diseases are at risk as a result of cuts of 5 to 8 percent to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies that award millions of dollars in grants to New Jersey. If a proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 goes through, those cuts could go even deeper, to 20 percent.
“Sequestration has had a devastating impact already and it’s only going to get worse,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Less research can be accomplished because not only has there been a cut this year, but the law requires cuts for the next nine years as well. Those cuts are coming on top of a whole period of flat or already cut funding for federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Science Foundation that fund the good research that taxpayers want to have taking place in New Jersey’s premier institutions.”
Cuts have not yet reached the 20 percent level, but they are anticipated if the current proposal is voted on and approved by Congress.
“New Jersey already has $12 million less in funding from the National Institutes of Health which means that scientists have been laid off or furloughed. It means that patients can’t be admitted to some of the clinical trials that they are relying on for state-of-the-art medical practice based on research for the treatment of cancer and other diseases,” said Woolley. “It means that young people who aspire to a career in science are being very discouraged with many giving up, choosing other lines of work or moving to another country where they are ramping up research.”
During the August congressional recess, research and patient advocates will be urging the New Jersey congressional delegation and other members of Congress to protect funding for medical and health research through meetings, letters, phone calls, public events, social media messages and other grassroots activities.
“Most people find it unbelievable that we wouldn’t as a nation be doing literally everything we could to find the cure for more cancers, to find the answer to Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s, diabetes and a whole host of diseases that people are suffering with,” said Woolley. “Right now, only one in 10 great ideas that have been approved can be supported.”
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