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Thursday, March 22, 2012

how you can help NIH research!

Just sign the petition at whitehouse.gov -- here's an email I received discussing why -- I can tell you from my own experience faculty are dropping out of research / retiring faster than most people are realizing -- we are losing amazingly talented and experienced people! All because NIH funding has been dropping since 2003!  Please read below, then take the link to sign the petition if you support a "cost of living" increase for the National Institutes of Health this year -- here's the promised email...


I was on a recent conference call with Administration officials, during which research funding was discussed. It seemed to me that these officials did not fully understand the central importance of NIH funding to our national research enterprise, to our local economies, to the retention and careers of our most talented and well-educated people, to the survival of our medical educational system, to our rapidly fading worldwide dominance in biomedical research, to job creation and preservation, to national economic viability, and to our national academic infrastructure. In response to a question from a participant, they staunchly defended the proposed flat $30.7 billion FY 2013 NIH budget as being perfectly adequate, remarking that “The NIH receives more funding than any other research entity; it will continue to be strong; it will do just fine.”

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The proposed flat NIH budget will severely exacerbate a catastrophic crisis that has been ongoing since 2003, when growth in NIH funding fell (and has continued to fall every subsequent year) behind the rate of inflation. As a consequence of this deeply flawed public policy, promising careers have been cut short, amazing research projects have been aborted, hundreds of laboratories nationwide have shrunk or been shut down, established and accomplished senior researchers have been forced to abandon their programs, young scientists have departed from research of even left the country (even after many years of productive training), thousands of ancillary jobs have been lost, our worldwide medical research dominance has been eroded (ceded to China, India, and other nations), and a large support network of laboratory supply and biotechnology companies has been drastically attenuated.

We successfully rescued the auto industry because we understood the ramifications of letting it fail. Our biomedical research infrastructure is just as far-reaching and vitally important to our nation’s economy as is the auto industry. I hope that our Administration understands this. For this reason, we started a petition at the whitehouse.gov “We The People” website on February 17, 2012.

However, our original petition to increase NIH funding expired on 3/18/12 (Sunday) at around 2 PM, with all supporters of this petition believing that there were still 10 more hours left. At the time it expired and disappeared from the We The People website, our petition was garnering approximately 4 signatures per minute, with only 446 of the 25,000 signatures remaining. I estimate that it would have taken less than two hours to meet the ‘threshold’ per the stated rules. Many people helped with this effort, especially towards the end. This outcome is indeed quite unfortunate and also seems unfair, particularly since some browsers weren't allowing people to sign, and the link to Help is still under construction.

We are still committed to pursue this cause, because it is simply too important to give up on. The future of biomedical research is in trouble, and this action may help at a critical time. Here is the link to our petition:


Stephen J. Meltzer, M.D.
The Harry & Betty Myerberg/Thomas R. Hendrix Professor Departments of Medicine (GI Division) and Oncology The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine & Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
1503 E. Jefferson Street, Room 112
Baltimore, MD 21287

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