Every year the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biologists (FASEB) brings scientists to Washington DC as part of Capitol Hill Day. Scientists from across the country meet with Congressional staff to discuss the importance of federal research funding. On March 5, 2014 scientists from 21 states met with their representatives. FASEB’s specific recommendations for funding included $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $7.6 billion for the National Science Foundation. The $32 billion recommendation for NIH funding represents fewer actual dollars (not inflation adjusted dollars) compared to 2010. More information about federal funding for basic science research is available on the FASEB website.
Three scientists from Boston University formed the State of Massachusetts delegation for Capitol Hill Day: Shoumita Dasgupta, PhD, Department of Medicine, Biomedical Genetics Section; Daniel Remick, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; and Douglas Rosene, PhD, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. They were escorted by Joseph McInerney, Executive Vice President, American Society of Human Genetics. The group visited the offices of Senators Warren and Markey as well as Representatives Tierney and Kennedy.
At each office the group gave specific information about how reduced funding for science was having multiple negative impacts. Individual stories were told including:
- Scientists no longer doing research because of lack of funding.
- Increased scientific publications from other countries in the Journal of Immunology compared to publications from the United States.
- International genomic sequencing initiatives (e.g. Beijing Genomics Institute) surpassing efforts at the NIH.
- Loss of funding for the Framingham Heart studies and missing a generation of data.
- Decreased funding resulting in fewer experiments to examine the devastating effects of aging. These studies require a long term, consistent commitment since aging takes place over decades and it is difficult to start and stop science.
All of the staff assured the delegation that the senators and representatives were highly supportive of increased funding for basic science research. Each agreed to submit programmatic requests to the budget committees. This will ensure that funding for basic science will be considered as an integral part of the budget process and not as a separate earmark. They also agreed to sign a “Dear Colleague” letter to be circulated to other senators and representatives advocating increased funding for NIH research. On behalf of Provost Antman, the Boston University faculty invited Massachusetts senators, representatives and their staff to come and visit the basic science labs at Boston University, and thanked them for their continued support.