The NIH is attempting to temper the impact on new investigators by creating special mechanisms for reviewing first-time grant applicants.
The budget crisis could also affect the next generation of scientists. Many young people have been attracted to neuroscience by the prospect of curing diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, according to Frank. “If students start perceiving they can do better in something else, they’ll go into programming or finance and we lose them to science,” he says.
President Bush’s budget plan for fiscal 2007 is expected to be released on February 6, 2006 (four days after his State of the Union Address). FASEB released a report on January 20 recommending a 5 percent increase for NIH in 2007 over the current year’s funding.
The severe cuts in NIH funding could eventually cause the President some pain. According to a poll released on January 26 by Research!America, a nonprofit advocacy group for medical research, based in Alexandria, VA, Americans currently rank health-related research (94 percent) as at least equal to homeland security (92 percent) in the nation’s priorities, and 51 percent want President Bush to ask for increased funding for health-related research in his 2007 budget request. It is a trend in public opinion, however, that the President has been ignoring.