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You could say that I work for the tax payer because my job is partially funded by NIH grants.  My biggest fear is lack of funding, as lack of funding equals lack of job.  This sequestration could impact the level of scientific research for years because the NIH is currently underfunded.

Grants are currently awarded for ~6th percentile (agency dependent), and the pressure to obtain funding and maintain it through competitive grant renewals is staggering.  Research is EXPENSIVE!!! Here is a rundown of everything necessary for one of my experiments:
Cell culture - maintenance, media, etc
Disposables - gloves, tubes, plates, petri dishes, grids, etc
Chemicals/reagents - buffers, drugs, antibodies, resins, fixatives, etc.
Microscopy - billed per hour
And, of course, my time for data collection and analysis. One experiment a week for about 40 weeks of the year... each experiment costs well over $2500... you get the idea.  I'm collaborating with about 20 lab members on experiments for various papers, so expenses multiple quickly.

Every year when I visit my extended family, I hear the same thing from a few relatives: "So, did you cure cancer yet? Don't know why it takes so long... Where the heck does all this money go that we donate... doesn't seem to make a difference!  Right into the fat cat's wallets, I expect!" If I hear that this year, I'm going to have an internal conniption, but I can't express how I feel without turning the conversation sour.  Instead, with a congenial face and tone, I will explain to my conservative family how science is conducted and is funded.  Maybe some of this knowledge will sink in, and perhaps take on more significance to them with the looming sequestration. One can only hope.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote. William E. Simon

    by TEMkitty on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 03:26:28 PM PST

  •  My brother was diagnosed with Hodgkins (10+ / 0-)

    Lymphoma when he was 13. This happened in the 1970's, when such a diagnoses for someone so young was a death sentence.

    He ended up being treated at NIH and they threw ever thing they'd been working on at him. In so doing, they saved his life and discovered how to save the lives of many others.

    Feel free to share that story with your conservative relatives.

    If you like, you can add that he's a missionary working with kids in Africa and that perhaps, God works through NIH at times. :)

    I wish you and all the researchers at NIH were more than properly funded. My respect and thankfulness for what all of you do is enormous.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Onomastic on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 03:47:25 PM PST

  •  I'm also a medical researcher (11+ / 0-)

    and I'm totally depressed about what might happen to our medical research infrastructure. Lots of us may need to leave the country, not because we don't love America, but because we won't have jobs. It will be the most stupid self-destruction of a scientific research enterprise since the Nazis fired all of Germany's Jewish scientists in the 1930s.

  •  For Many Years I Worked In DC (5+ / 0-)

    my best friend worked for the EPA. I'd often to go EPA parties with him. Folks would introduce themselves by what they did. My friend said, I kid you not "ground water."

    He just wanted to make sure you and I had clean water to drink.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 03:51:55 PM PST

  •  I hear you! (6+ / 0-)

    I work hard and get paid from NIH funding. Republicans want America to enter a new Dark Ages where science is witchcraft and fanatical religion rules everything.

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. NYC's Progressive/Reform Blog

    by mole333 on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 04:26:31 PM PST

  •  speaking as the care-giver to a cancer patient (9+ / 0-)

    and as a friend of a cancer researcher recently retired from NIH, the decision to cut this kind of research is effectively to say to thousands of people that we do not care about your lives or your quality of life - save us money by just going ahead and dying.

    My spouse is benefiting from the advances in treatment to her cancer as a direct result of research.

    We are not alone, not here at Daily Kos, and not across this nation.

    And it is not just cancer research that will be affected.

    Just so some rightwing billionaires can keep more money to distort our political and governmental processes?

    How much lower is it possible for us to sink as a society?

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 04:59:36 PM PST

  •  The American people are ignorant and proud of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, radarlady, samddobermann

    The evil ignorant people they elect.

    Too bad!

    I'm sorry!

  •  yeah, it's bad. (6+ / 0-)

    Labs aren't for-profit entities...they operate at the margin between red and black.

    NIH has released its sequester plans: for ongoing extramural grants, some will take around a 10% hit. Success rates for new grants will drop even lower. Particulars vary by agency, of course.

    The way that funding is structured makes it hard to leave and come back at will. High fixed costs means cutting positions may be the only way to stretch a thin budget.

    It's hard to 'pause' biological research.

  •  Worried about cuts to Social Security, too (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Eric Blair, Victor Ward, radarlady

    Sadly both Obama and the GOP want to cut SS benefits. Seniors have no one to protect their interests in Washington DC.

    It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

    by Betty Pinson on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 05:21:42 PM PST

  •  Setbacks to research, treatment, and training (5+ / 0-)

    I'm another NIH-funded researcher - much of my work is in dementia (Alzheimer's and others.) I'm also a caregiver for parents in their late 90's, one with Lewy body dementia. The urgency of this challenge should be obvious to anyone looking at the demographics, as the leading edge of the baby boom hits 65. We have only a handful of approved drugs, none of them a cure; the best you can expect is short-term improvement or brief delay of the inevitable decline.

    The sequester and the cuts that are proposed to follow will exacerbate the already bad climate for NIH funding. You can't just take away 10% of each project's funding, or fund 10% fewer projects in the future. You damage the work underway, sometimes fatally, and you risk funding only the very well established and safe-looking projects. No high-risk, high-reward.

    And, as noted by some folks above, NIH does not just do research; they provide treatment, innovative and cutting-edge things, which are especially critical for rare or complex conditions.

    Even if you develop a successful treatment, defunding the FDA will delay approval, which is already a long process. You want unapproved drugs? Go read up on thalidomide.

    Moreover, NIH is one of the main drivers funding the training of clinical and translational researchers. We have seen the impact of such cuts before, after the post-Sputnik science drive faded, and we lost a big chunk of the next generation of researchers. Who do you think is going to step up and restart the research, after this generation gives up on mastering PET research and decides to learn how to repair the Porsches of those unwilling to give up any wealth?

    You'd think no one on the Republican side had any family members with Alzheimer's, or pancreatic cancer, or any of the other conditions for which we still need that big breakthrough.

  •  Eric Cantor Tweets Obama Is Spending $1.2 MILLION (5+ / 0-)

    dollars to pay people to play a violent video game called "World of War Craft".

    Not true.  It's a lie.  The National Science Foundation was given 2 grants to monitor & report on the effect of seniors playing memory games like "Jingo" & "Boom Box".  This research will be invaluable to Alzheimer & Dementia protocols.

    Republicans don't value research, science or medical interventions.  It's a waste of money that could be spent on wars & tax loop holes for big oil & hedge fund managers.  

  •  My son is in grad school (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, samddobermann

    on a NIH fellowship, along with some university funding.  He still has a couple of years to go, so we are...concerned.

    The truth always matters.

    by texasmom on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:34:40 PM PST

  •  Most research in America is gov't funded (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are some exceptions, but, the lion's share of work, especially in the physical sciences (where I work) is  either NSF, NASA, ONR (Office of Naval Research) or other DOD agencies. These cuts will set a lot of fields back (again) and we've still not recovered from the joint hits under Clinton (downsizing) and Dumya (shifting funds to the WOT).

    We're all holding our breath to see how bad it gets where I work.


  •  I know about this (0+ / 0-)

    because hubby is an academic research scientist (not medical, though). Applying for grants has consumed a large part of his work hours for years; it is extremely difficult and stressful and has become more and more so, even without the sequester.

    Without adequate funding, not only is very important work not being done, but the even more horrible consequence is fewer young scientists are being trained. We are falling behind.

    Personally we will not be so badly affected this year--he has research funding now which won't be touched by the sequester. And for future years, well, he's pretty good at surviving so he'll manage somehow. In his late 50's, already well enough established in his field.

    But we look around and see civilization crumbling around us.

    I love it that Obama's channeling Harry Truman: "I don't give 'em hell; I just tell the truth and they think it's hell!"

    by sillia on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:35:53 AM PST

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