Monday, December 9, 2013

Cuts in Medical Research Funding Are Suicidal

Even if you think government is the worst thing that ever happened to humanity, even if you think cutting the federal budget is always an unqualified good, how can you think that eliminating funding for medical research is OK?

Kevin Drum:

Keith Humphreys adds more:
On the ground in my daily work in both a university medical school and a public hospital, it’s a rare month that some bright young person doesn’t tell me they are quitting science because it’s too hard to get funded. These are usually not reversible decisions. Even a well-trained young physician who leaves research for 5 years to treat patients full-time is very hard to tempt back into science if the funding picture improves (and is even harder to bring back up to speed on the cutting-edge scientific questions and methods of the day).
....A decade or two from now, when an antibiotic resistant bacteria or new strain of bird flu is ravaging humanity, that generation will no longer be around to lead the scientific charge on humanity’s behalf. That’s why we constantly need a new stream of young people committing to health science careers. That seed corn is currently being consumed at an alarming rate, and if we don’t act immediately to rectify the situation we will suffer for many years to come from the loss of a generation of health researchers.
Because NIH grants typically last a long time—five to ten years or more—budget reductions have an oversized effect on new research proposals. When funding goes down thanks to austerity-obsessed politicians, existing grants have to keep getting funded, which means that virtually no new money opens up for new projects. And this is coming at the same time that the drug pipeline is slowing down, antibiotic-resistant superbugs are surging, and we're still struggling to figure out how to make use of the genomic revolution.
We are insane.
 The tombstone some future alien visitors will erect on our planet will read:
Suicide By Austerity

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