Student Researchers Call for Federal Science Funding

On June 1st, the organization with over 10,000 graduate students known as Stand With Science (SWS) published an op-ed in The Journal of Science Policy & Governance, highlighting the need student engagement and advocacy for the protection of science funding.  Following an explanation of the sequester and its impact to the R&D industry as a whole, SWS discusses funding cuts that impact the student community:  “We as graduate students must be concerned about cuts to all science funding, as all cuts to science are cuts to our future livelihoods as much as they are cuts to our nation’s competitiveness.” They follow with a subsequent call to action to the research community as a whole:  “We believe the roll of the scientist should not be limited to the laboratory, and that [we] have a responsibility to contribute to important policy debates concerning science and science funding.”

See the article here.

IOM Reports on Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Today, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report — requested by NIH at the urging of Congress — on the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program. The IOM found that the CTSAs are making considerable contributions to the advancement of clinical and translational research, helping to bridge the so-called “valley of death,” and made seven recommendations to build on success, including the following:

  1. Strengthen NCATS leadership/oversight of the CTSA Program
  2. Reconfigure and streamline the CTSA Consortium
  3. Build on the strengths of individual CTSAs across the spectrum of clinical and translational research
  4. Formalize and standardize evaluation processes for individual CTSAs and the CTSA Program
  5. Advance innovation in education and training programs
  6. Ensure community engagement in all phases of research
  7. Strengthen clinical and translational research relevant to child health

Dr. Christopher Austin, Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, which administers the CTSAs, issued a statement that fully endorsed the recommendations and set a path for implementation.

IOM Report Brief

IOM Full Report Download Portal

UMR Analyzes Investments Generated by Human Genome Project

On Wednesday, United for Medical Research (UMR) released an updated study on the economic impact of the success of and investments made in the Human Genome Project (HGP). During the 13 year span of the HGP, the federal government, spearheaded by the NIH and Department of Energy, allocated the equivalent of $14.5 billion in 2012 inflation adjusted dollars towards direct and genomic research. The total economic impact from 1988 through to 2012 calculated by UMR equals $965 billion, with a calculated 65:1 return on investment. In addition, 277,361 jobs were created by the HGP, including 47,300 in the private sector. The study also points out that over $6.1 billion have been generated in federal, state, and local taxes in 2012.

NIH Data Catalog RFI Published

In an attempt to improve accessibility and citation of biomedical research data and grants, the NIH is asking the scientific community for input.  As part of the NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Initiative, it seeks to improve large information management for future use through input received from a request for information (RFI).  In the RFI, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) posed the idea of developing a data catalog specifically for biomedical research, similar to the NIH’s PubMed system for scientific publications.  The vision is for the data catalog is for it to be different than a data repository in that it would improve searching, citation, and consistency as well as create links to the actual data location, grant, publications, and software used.

Find the link to the actual RFI here. The deadline for comment is June 25th.

OMB Emphasizes the Importance of Research in FY15 Memo

Sylvia Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget

On May 29, 2013, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Sylvia Burwell, circulated a memorandum to all federal departments and agencies regarding the development of the FY2015 budget that will be submitted to Congress next year.  The research community should be especially bolstered by the following sentence in the second paragraph of the memorandum:

“The 2015 Budget should continue to build on the President’s plan, by reducing spending on lower priority programs in order to create room for effective investments in areas critical to economic growth and job creation, including education, innovation, infrastructure, and research and development.” Continue reading

House Plan Transfers Billions from Non-Security Sector

As we’ve previously blogged, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers is advancing a plan that increases security expenditures while maintaining the $967 billion cap on discretionary spending set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities chart below captures, Mr. Rogers achieves an increase for security related budget items by decreasing non-security funding by $45 billion below their BCA limit, resulting in a new round of severe cuts for many agencies. The House appropriations plan has already been met with a veto threat from President Obama. Additionally, the Senate is moving forward in a very different manner. Nonetheless, the House proposal is certainly cause for alarm.

Rogers Plan Cuts to Non-Defense Spending

NIH Releases Fact Sheet Outlining Impacts of Sequestration

On Monday, the NIH released a fact sheet outlining the impact of the sequestration on its operations and plans for FY2013.  The sequester, initiated on March 1, 2013, requires that the NIH slash its FY2013 budget by either 5% or $1.55 billion.  These budgetary changes will be applied across all 27 Institutes and Centers of the NIH, significantly affecting every aspect of medical research, including that of the NIDCR.

The major numbers projected to change due to the sequester, outlined by the fact sheet, are staggering.  Specifically, the NIH estimates that there will be approximately 700 fewer competitive research project grants awarded, taking application funding rates down to one in six submissions.  There will also be a significant defunding of grants for existing noncompeting research projects, with an NIH average decrease by 4.7%.  Similarly, recipients of the National Research Service Award will see stagnation in their stipends for the budgetary year, further de-incentivizing proposals. Continue reading