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Group: NIH cuts would mean big hit to research


By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: December 10, 2012 - 2:00 pm ET
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As the National Institutes of Health faces about $2.5 billion in federal funding cuts next year (PDF), the American Society of Hematology emphasized the effect those reductions will have on medical research, both within and outside America's borders.

In a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. and foreign-based presenters at the society's annual meeting—taking place through Tuesday in Atlanta—63% of American respondents said they used NIH funding to support their work, while 52% of all presenters said they have referenced an NIH-funded study in their research.

Dr. Robert Hromas, chair of internal medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine and Shands Hospital, also serves as the chair of scientific affairs at the American Society of Hematology. In an interview with Modern Healthcare, Hromas said that if the sequestration process takes effect early next year, the 8% hit to NIH's budget could cut about 2,300 investigator-initiated research grants in a year, or about one-tenth of all research grants in America. That corresponds with about 33,000 jobs, and Hromas said the organization is worried about losing a new generation of scientists and investigators.

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"We're going to have this gap in training because in any situation, the last person hired is the first person let go," he said. "Training programs will be cut drastically and disproportionately."

The society also is worried about the economic impact of the cuts on the biopharmaceutical industry, Hromas said, adding that it could compromise U.S. market strength in this segment. "The U.S. is the largest exporter of biopharmaceuticals," he said. "No one else is close. We're going to throw away an area of market dominance."

The NIH sounded a similar warning on Friday, proposing initiatives meant to boost the medical research workforce.

The American Society of Hematology survey results were released in conjunction with a campaign called Fight for Hematology that emphasizes the importance of medical research.


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