Medical researchers bracing for the impact of sequestration - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Medical researchers bracing for the impact of sequestration

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We have all been hearing about how the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda is bracing for the sequester. But NIH reminds us 80 percent of its funding goes to medical investigations elsewhere in the private sector.

At the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering in Baltimore, scientists are working to find the causes of and cures for lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.

"If you find the causes," says research director Dr. Stephen Desiderio, "you have the targets for the next generation of drugs, and you have the targets for the next generation of diagnostics. So you can hopefully detect these much earlier and then treat them with a new generation of drugs."

Desiderio says his lab is certainly a place where the sequester will be felt.

"The effects on our nation's medical institutions are going to be profound," he says. "For example, at Johns Hopkins alone, one of the largest institutions in the country, there will be an impact of about $70 million."

He says there is already a crisis of funding for science in the United States and so they have been bracing for this.

"Many of us have been cautious about who we hire, how many people we hire, how many experiments we take on," Desiderio says. "So we've begun already to voluntarily cut back on out activities."

Desiderio says Hopkins has been turning to private sources for funding.

"But no amount of philanthropy is going to staunch the bleeding that's going to occur after sequester," he says.

That's because he says almost all of the medical research under his control is supported by the federal government.

"What we're going to see is the next generation of scientists lost because of this," he says.

That might sound a little dramatic, but Dr. Desiderio says the fruits of medical research are one of this country's last great exports and the White House and Congress ought to take that to heart.

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