The Georgia university research community welcomed Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Thursday, May 30, 2013. On the heels of learning the specifics on how the sequestration will impact the NIH, Collins spent time with administrators and researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, University of Georgia (UGA), Georgia State University and Morehouse School of Medicine.
The group spent the morning highlighting NIH funded research. Scientists representing Georgia Tech included Robert Guldberg, Ph.D., executive director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and professor in mechanical engineering, who spoke to Collins about the Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center, a partnership between Emory University and Georgia Tech focused on endogenous repair and healing of nerves, bone, metabolic and cardiac applications.
Todd McDevitt, Ph.D., director of the Stem Cell Engineering Center and associate professor in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech, presented four projects funded with NIH dollars, including wound healing studies from a “Transformative Research Award,” a program developed to fund “high-risk, high-reward” science under the NIH’s Common Fund.
“Given that Dr. Collins recently dedicated a blog post on the ongoing research of Andrés García, Todd McDevitt, Hang Lu and Steve Stice from UGA, we were excited to share the great work being done in regenerative medicine and in stem cells,” explained Stephen Cross, Ph.D., executive vice president for research. “Bob and Todd were able to present ongoing NIH funded work for which Dr. Collins expressed both admiration and strong support.”
Later that morning, administration from each university traveled to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where they were joined by representatives from Clark Atlanta University, Georgia Regents University, Georgia Southern University and Mercer University for further discussions with Congressman Jack Kingston, Collins and Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, director for the Center for Disease Control. Each representative highlighted their NIH and/or CDC funded research as well as shared concerns regarding sequestration impacts on each university’s budget and ultimately the state’s economy. Representatives also provided Collins and Frieden with suggestions on specific grant programs and reporting, peer review processes and programs aimed at diversifying the healthcare workforce.
Due to the sequestration, the NIH’s budget will fall by $1.71 billion in 2013, which represents a 5% decrease. As a result, NIH expects to fund 703 fewer new and competing research grants this year.
This decline in funding will have an impact on our Georgia universities, including Georgia Tech, which was awarded $41.3 million from the NIH in 2012. NIH estimates that every $1 in NIH funding generates $2.21 in local economic growth.
As for how these cuts will affect individual research labs, that may not be known for some time. However, Collins is already seeking anecdotes of the sequestration’s impact via a twitter discussion using the hashtag #NIHSequesterImpact.
Georgia Tech has created a sequestration information webpage, which includes the latest updates from Georgia Tech and many of its federal search sponsors. http://tlw-proxy.gatech.edu/research/faculty-and-staff-resources/sequestration-updates