ASCB Newsletter Nov 2013 - page 22

researchers like him, who rely on NIH
guidance and support, into untenable
Carol Greider, co-recipient of the 2009
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
and a member of the ASCB’s Public Policy
Committee, expressed her concern about
the harm the shutdown and budget cuts
will have on the young scientists in her lab
at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s often
assumed that the dollars they’re talking about
are for fancy equipment, but the bulk of the
funding in my lab goes to training the future
scientific leaders. This training is truly in
jeopardy with the decreased funding.”
Rebecca Burdine, an ASCB member
in the Department of Molecular Biology
at Princeton University, told the press
conference that her generation of researchers
has been feeling the strain of NIH budget
cuts for more than a decade. “You’re fighting
for a pool of money with people who are just
as brilliant, just as ambitious, and have just
as good ideas,” Burdine said. She continued,
“This prevents really good science from
being done. I’ve seen many of my peers
spiraling down the drain. They are slowly
shutting down their labs and leaving science.”
Burdine’s concerns about funding for
research go beyond her day job. Burdine
also has a daughter affected by Angelman
syndrome, a genetic disorder that recent NIH-
funded research has linked to a mistake in
genomic imprinting. Burdine told reporters,
“This is a disease that we could treat and
potentially cure. The only thing keeping
my daughter from living a seizure-free life
is money. It’s like the government threw a
concrete brick at a group of people already
treading water. My daughter is one of the ones
affected by this.”
The restrictions on research are not limited
to funding from the NIH and NSF. Bertuzzi
told reporters that Ruth Lehmann, an ASCB
Council member from the Skirball Institute
at New York University, recently ordered an
RNAi fly line from the Vienna Drosophila
RNAi Center in Austria. She soon received
a message saying that her order could not be
processed because the U.S. Department of
Agriculture was closed and would not be able
to inspect the shipment when it arrived in the
United States.
—Kevin M. Wilson
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