Chicken Little and the President

April 30, 2013 - Trish Vradenburg

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Chicken Little was in the woods. A seed fell on his tail. Chicken Little said, The sky is falling.” So he ran to tell the king and everyone in the kingdom.

That got me to thinking about looming research budget cuts caused by sequestration and pondering, is President Obama the Chicken Little of Sequestration?  Maybe he’s just making a big deal about the slash in medical funding for research. Or maybe Republicans are right – it’s all just Gloom without the Doom. So I started looking for answers.

I looked through less than a month’s worth of news clips. Not pretty. For example, a March 21, 2013 Los Angeles Times article reported that sequestration could “spark a U.S. ‘brain drain’ of researchers” who are “wondering whether America is the right place to do work."

Then I remembered that Chicken Little ended up going into the Fox’s den and was never heard from again. Is this the same way our medical research is going to end up? RIP Chicken Little.  

Luckily, we still have time to reverse our country’s fate.

The President has put forth a budget that increases funding for Alzheimer’s research by $83 million, but we’ll never see the impact of this modest increase unless Congress holds up their end of the bargain. Write to them TODAY and tell them that our nation must invest more in research to fight Alzheimer's! With one in three families already impacted by this terrible disease, we can’t afford to wait another moment.

Required reading on sequestration:

  • A March 21, 2013 Baltimore Sun opinion piece by Michael Milken and Dr. Elias Zerhouni: “Today, the rising costs of Alzheimer's disease and other age-related chronic conditions threaten to leave us with bleak choices between widespread suffering and financial ruin. We're optimistic that research will solve this challenge. Singapore, the U.K., Japan, South Korea, China, India and others are increasing research budgets as much as 20 percent a year.”
  • A March 9, 2013 Reuters article reported “some of the largest U.S. research universities fear that spending cuts under sequestration could lead to layoffs, curtail scientific discovery and leave a generation with less access to careers in science.”
  • A March 8, 2013 MercuryNews.com (CA) opinion piece by Dr. N. Anthony Coles, CEO of Onyx Pharmaceuticals: “Sequestration threatens to stifle the biomedical breakthroughs that have distinguished us as global leaders and given hope to millions of patients and families grappling with life-threatening diseases. Without the investments our country made into biomedical research years ago, my son might not be here today.
  • A March 7, 2013 Fiscal Times article reported that “the NSF is facing a reduction of $283 million. The agency funds about a fifth of federally funded research at colleges and universities, in areas like biology, computer science and engineering which anticipates eliminating about could halt some research projects on clean energy, cybersecurity and advances in manufacturing.”
  • A March 12, 2013 Atlantic article highlighted the devastating long-term impact in the future, “diminishing our world leadership in science, technology and in the creation of cutting-edge jobs.”

Sequestration’s impact on university research:

 

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