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U.S. Science Suffering From Booms And Busts In Funding

Leif Parsons for NPR Ten years ago, Robert Waterland got an associate professorship at Baylor College of Medicine and set off to study one of the nation’s most pressing health problems: obesity. In particular, he’s been trying to figure out the biology behind why children born to obese women are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Waterland got sustaining funding from the National Institutes of Health and used it…

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Sequester looming, again

After what seemed like a brief hiatus following the first round of sequester cuts earlier this year, the news is once again filling with impending disaster for science research programs across the country as the next round of budget talks lurches toward an uncertain conclusion. For one, the sequester cuts imposed earlier this year appear all but certain to remain in effect, which will spell even more bad news for…

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Sequester lowers grant success rate to 14%

The automatic spending cuts and other reductions to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) budget this year have caused slightly less damage than expected, NIH Director Francis Collins said yesterday. Preliminary data show that about 50 more grants were funded than projected, he said at a forum sponsored by Research!America. But success rates may have plunged even further than the agency predicted. NIH’s budget shrunk by 5.5% this year, to…

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More cuts loom for US science

Laura Niedernhofer is counting her pennies. The mid-career molecular biologist moved last year to the Scripps Research Institute’s campus in Jupiter, Florida — a risky decision that saw her building a new laboratory group at a time when the US government was cutting its support for science. In June, Niedernhofer abandoned one of her main lines of research — reducing the toxicity of cancer drugs — after the National Institutes…

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Pure hype of pure research helps no one

What do you get when you cross science hype with conservative politics? The answer is the High Quality Research Act, a draft bill that would require the director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to certify the quality of every science project that the agency funds with its roughly US$5.6-billion research budget. The proposed legislation was drawn up last month by Lamar Smith (Republican, Texas), the new chairman of…

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Scientists feeling sequester pinch

The federal budget sequester is starting to squeeze biomedical research, Seattle scientists told Sen. Patty Murray on Tuesday. Some federal grants, which are the lifeblood of institutions like the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, have been cut by as much as half, said researchers who participated in a round-table discussion. At the UW School of Medicine, the bite adds up to $24 million so far,…

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Researchers fight sequestration plans

Dr. Larry Corey is a virologist and infectious-disease specialist who devoted years to a yet-unfulfilled quest for an HIV vaccine. But the president of Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center lately has been preoccupied with a vexing challenge of a different sort: the $85 billion fiscal ax known as sequestration. Corey is one of hordes of advocates for various interest groups who have been descending on Washington, D.C., to argue…

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