Across-the-board federal budget cuts that took effect in March, known as the sequester, eliminated $1.5 billion or 5% from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. These devastating cuts are already causing the cancellation or delay of promising research projects throughout the country, slowing progress in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke- as well as other diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
The American Heart Association has joined other groups in the medical research community in urging Congress to restore the funds cut in the sequester and to dedicate $32 billion for NIH in the fiscal year ahead to get NIH back on track. President Obama’s FY2014 budget proposal submitted to Congress on April 10th requested $31.331 billion for the NIH.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed budget bills, and the work now moves to the committees charged with appropriating the funds. Restoring funding for NIH has strong bipartisan support, with 52 Senators and 168 Representatives having signed letters asking appropriators to get the NIH back on track so life-saving medical research isn’t delayed any further.
The recent funding cuts will reduce the number of planned grants by about 2,300, eliminate more than 20,000 jobs nationwide, and reduce new economic activity by nearly $3 billion. It is vital we bring these statistics to life, as appropriators decide the future funding levels for NIH, by sharing real stories about the devastating impact these funding cuts have on heart disease and stroke researchers and patients.
AHA volunteer Dr. Steven Houser, a researcher at Temple University , was recently featured in a news article, sharing the difficult choice he must make between firing staff or cutting back on promising research as a result of funding cuts from the sequester. This is happening in research labs across the country, and ultimately the impact will trickle down to patients as new treatments and possible cures are put on hold.
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We will continue to keep you updated on this critical funding situation and will need your help to continue to push Congress to act to restore funding for medical research that is imperative to the fight against heart disease and stroke.