“Abundance” has always been a choice word in describing the volume of federal funds fueling biomedical research in Boston. However, local researchers won’t be spared from the effects of sequestration, the automatic budget cuts that became law in January.
Federal cuts include National Institutes of Health research grants that have been a central source of funding for biomedical research efforts across the country. Boston, as a top recipient of the NIH’s largesse, will be hit particularly hard.
WBUR’s Bruce Gellerman spoke with Dr. Piyush Gupta, a researcher at MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge about the NIH cuts:
More than 30,000 people in Massachusetts work directly in biomedical research. Gupta says that’s due, in large part, to the grants researchers here get from the National Institutes of Health.
“The NIH is the source of funding that sustains laboratory research — the primary source of funding throughout the country,” he said.
For 18 consecutive years, Boston has led the nation among all U.S. cities in the amount of funding from the NIH. Money for biomedical research here last year reached a near record. But the federal sequester calls for cutting the NIH budget by 5 percent, and more over the coming decade.
Massachusetts got $2.3 billion from the NIH last year. That works out to $377 per person. California was a distant second, with $90 per person. And if you look at just Cambridge and Boston, it’s a whopping $3,000 a person.
Veteran biomedical researchers like Dr. Gupta fear that the growing scarcity in federal funds will lead to a more competitive environment and quash the collaborative ethos that currently exists. Continue reading