Researchers and Public Up in Arms over Imminent Collapse of U.S. Biomedical Research

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Leading American biomedical researchers and patient advocates from Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, Penn State University, and Boise State University are raging against chronic underfunding of the National Institutes of Health. They allege that this has led to severe erosion of cutting-edge research, biotechnology industry growth, and diagnostic tests and cures for human diseases.

"This is a ticking time bomb that will likely cause an implosion of the entire medical research enterprise in the U.S." - Morgan Giddings, Boise, Idaho

“This is a deep wound." -Wafik S. El-Deiry, M.D. Ph.D.

“We have two choices, either we abandon our career after 20-30 years of hard work or we have to raise our voice,” says Wellington Pham, assistant professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University.

“This is a ticking time bomb that will likely cause an implosion of the whole medical research enterprise in the US.” says Dr. Morgan Giddings who runs a popular grant-help website at “We have a crisis-level epidemic on our hands. It's an epidemic of cures delayed, labs closed, and of the US falling behind in research."

“I am embarrassed and puzzled that we are fighting for a $33 billion biomedical research budget in a country this large and wealthy, yet the annual biomedical research budget of Singapore is $40 billion. China’s biomedical research budget is $4.3 trillion annually,” says Professor Charis Eng of the Cleveland Clinic. "I used to hire diamonds in the rough and take pride in training them into bright diamonds. Inadequate NIH budget over the past 10 years has stopped this. I now hire 30% fewer people than previously. This just doesn't mean that people aren’t hired: we also lose our hidden talent pool.”

President Obama, in his proposed FY 2013 budget, gave a flat $30.7 million to NIH—effectively causing cuts due to year-over-year cost increases – and hurting both scientific research and the economy. After 9 years of sub-inflationary increases or actual decrements in funding, researchers and research progress are suffering.

A new “We the People” petition was therefore started at the website to make funding NIH a priority, and to increase it to $33 million (

The NIH is much more than just research funding: it is also a powerful job creator. NIH funds supported more than 432,000 jobs and generated over $62.1 billion in economic activity last year, according to a report from United for Medical Research. "Not only does NIH funding contribute directly to life-saving treatments and medical breakthroughs, it also supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country," UMC President Carrie Wolinetz said in a statement. Most importantly, NIH funding is a major source of support for the 126 medical schools throughout our country, according to Andrew Marks in a recent article published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Stephen J. Meltzer, Professor of Medicine at The John Hopkins University, sums up the problem thusly: “Promising careers have been cut short, valuable research projects have been aborted, hundreds of laboratories nationwide have shrunk or closed down, accomplished senior researchers have had to abandon their programs, young scientists have departed from research or left the country (after years of productive training), thousands of ancillary jobs have been lost, our worldwide research dominance has been eroded, and a large network of laboratory supply and biotechnology companies has been attenuated.”

Last but not least, the NIH itself directly saves lives. Carl Miller, a Johns Hopkins faculty member, knows this personally: “My cousin is retired from the Baltimore City Fire Dept. He contracted Hepatitis C from an ambulance call several years ago. He was lucky enough to get into a study at NIH which gave him a new, experimental regimen of drugs and therapies that saved his life. His viral load was reduced to zero, and he is doing fine today, all thanks to that program offered at NIH.”

This petition ( closes on April 17, 2012; 8,302 more signatures are currently needed to prompt an Administration response. More information is on Dr. Giddings’ science careers and grant writing blog:
And at the following URL:

Dr. Morgan Giddings

Dr. Stephen Meltzer

Neither this press release nor the opinions expressed here represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health, Boise State University, The Johns Hopkins University, The Scripps Research Institute, or the Cleveland Clinic. This release is an independent effort by concerned individuals.

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