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No funds for biomedical breakthroughs

Jeremy Hobson Mar 11, 2008


Scott Jagow: The National Institute of Health is dependent on federal money. But for the last five years, the level of that funding has been flat. Today, a group of researchers from several top universities is warning of the consequences. They say we stand to lose a generation of scientists and the cures they could discover if the NIH budget doesn’t get a boost. Jeremy Hobson has more.

Jeremy Hobson: If you’re a biomedical researcher looking for major funding, there’s really only one place to go.

But Dr. David Farb of Boston University says the NIH funding faucet is slowing to a trickle. So there’s tough competition for limited resources. He says young researchers are being turned off as senior scientists are turned away on their funding proposals.

David Farb: Your top people are losing grants, and the young people see that and say what if I achieve that and there’s no safety net for me?

Dr. Jill Rafael-Fortney of Ohio State University says some students from top medical schools are already starting to switch careers.

Dr. Jill Rafael-Fortney: The people who, you know, are really poised to do translational research are going into private practice, because they can’t get funding.

And she says forget about relying on the private sector to fund research. Big Pharma typically waits until the leg work has been done to get involved.

Rafael-Fortney will push for more NIH funding at a hearing this morning on Capitol Hill.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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