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From University Chancellors To Post-Docs, The Message To Congress Is The Same: Stop The Sequester And Preserve America's Leadership In Science And Innovation

ScienceWorksForU.S. Releases Video Editorials on the Sequester

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the heels of President Obama's State of the Union address that called for a "level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race," members of  America's research community renewed their call for an end to the budget sequester, which will impose severe cuts on such research.

In individual video messages to Congress, university chancellors, research officers, faculty and students discussed their work and their fears about the drastic cuts to federally funded university research, which will amount to nearly $95 billion over the next nine years.  These cuts are in addition to the tight caps on discretionary spending put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

"Automatic across the board cuts to federal programs supporting students and research would have a devastating impact on our nation's ability to compete," says Phyllis Wise, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "We must revisit, recalculate, and reverse these before they are triggered."

America's research institutions are making great strides in addressing some of the nation's most difficult challenges in health care, energy, the environment and defense.  Researchers at the University of Delaware spoke of the impact the across-the-board cuts will have on this work.  "The sequester would slow vital renewable energy research," according to Willet Kempton of UD's Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.  Geologist Holly Michael adds, "the sequester will leave us behind the curve in preparing for sea level rise."

Emory University School of Medicine Research Dean Raymond Dingledine reminds Congress that "the therapies that result from vigorous, vigorous research by the biomedical community help strengthen our economy, and in a way, help defend our nation." Research by Emory University scientists and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has yielded numerous life-changing innovations, including new AIDS medicines and modern surgical techniques for Parkinson's disease. 

"It's absolutely critical for us to continue the federal funding that allows science to move forward," says Dr. Rebecca Jackson of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at The Ohio State University.

Melinda Cromie, a postdoctoral student at Stanford University, benefitted from a federal research fellowship. She worries about the complex nature of these challenges and whether the sequester will sap us of the human resources necessary to deal with them. "If we lose federal funding, fewer people will be able to undertake this training," she says.  "As a nation we can't afford to not have the resource of people trained to deal with these problems."

The video editorials are being released by ScienceWorksForU.S. throughout February in an effort to impress upon lawmakers the importance of finding deficit reduction solutions that allow the country to continue to invest in basic scientific and medical research and other things that contribute to economic growth, security and health.

According to University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, "The solution to America's financial challenges should be balanced and should recognize that the discoveries universities make today will be the foundation of our economy tomorrow."

ScienceWorksForUS is a project of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Science Coalition (TSC) to demonstrate the tremendous impact that federally funded university based research has on the nation and on the lives of all Americans, particularly the role it plays in improving health and spurring economic growth.

SOURCE ScienceWorksForU.S.

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