The sequester — automatic federal budget cuts — has gone into effect. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is predicted to be one of the hardest hit.1 Knowing that sequestration was coming, the NIH has already begun limiting grants awarded. According to Francis Collins, director of the NIH, the number of grants awarded has been on the decline for years: “I doubt that any institutes have funded more than 10 percent.”2 Earlier in the week, Collins told USA Today, “With the budget of the $31 billion agency holding steady over the last half-decade, the chances of research grants being funded had already fallen to roughly 1 in 6, half of its historic rate.”3
The 85-billion-dollar sequester will decrease 5 percent of federal funds at each of the NIH Institutes, affecting the National Cancer Institute; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and the National Institute on Aging.1 While scientists will not feel the full effects of the sequester for several months, research funds will be much harder to come by for everyone. This will translate to fewer successful projects.
Researchers involved in proteomics work will likely rely on existing proteomics core facilities rather than purchasing their own equipment, as funding will be limited. Some proteomics facilities may close if there are not enough researchers using the facilities to justify maintaining them.
Federal funding will need to be prioritized and may be awarded to established scientists instead of those starting out in proteomics and other fields. Collins is concerned with what the long-term effects of the sequester will be. “I worry desperately this means we will lose a generation of young scientists,” he says. He then goes on to give a final warning: “A lot of good science just won’t be done.”3
1. The White House: Office of the Press Secretary ‘Fact Sheet: Examples of How the Sequester Would Impact Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security‘ February 08, 2013
2. Burton, T., and Paletta, D. ‘NIH cuts began ahead of sequester‘, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. NEWS, March 1, 2013
3.Vergano, D. ‘Science faces sequestration cuts‘, USA Today, February 25, 2013