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Sequestration: The NIH Bookmark You Need Now

Sally Rockey
Sally Rockey

If you are among those in the scientific world whose heart goes pitty-pat whenever you see an NIH address in your inbox or in the upper left hand corner of an envelope, you might want to add this bookmark to your browser. It’s where NIH will announce the gruesome details of how it will carry out the long threatened federal budget sequestration. Actually you should have this as an all-weather bookmark as it’s the "Rock Talk" blog of Sally Rockey, Deputy Director for Extramural Research at NIH and essential reading for grant holders, grant writers, and grant worriers. As with all things NIH, "Rock Talk" can require some skill at governmental tea leaf reading. In the current sequestration marathon, tea leaves count as a Reliable Source.

If you’re still wondering if sequestration is a Good Thing for Science, you might want to read this guest opinion piece on Matthew Herper’s science and medicine blog at Forbes. It’s the view from "pharma" as marshaled by three leading players in pharmaceutical development: Marc Tessier-Lavigne, now President of Rockefeller University and former Chief Scientific Officer, Genentech Inc; P. Roy Vagelos, Chairman of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the retired Chairman and CEO of Merck & Co.; and Elias Zerhouni, President for R&D at Sanofi and former Director of the National Institutes of Health. They point out that the sequestration is only the icing on the cake of decreased investment in basic biomedical research that has been largely flat since 2003. "Because of inflation, over the past decade these NIH dollars actually lost about 20 percent of their purchasing power even before sequestration, at the same time as the federal budget grew by 56 percent in inflation corrected terms," they wrote. The takeaway: Even short term sequestration will hurt for a long time.

Created on Thursday, March 7, 2013

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