Unless Congress acts, America may lose its leadership in biomedical science. Federally-funded biomedical research has greatly improved our quality of life. Diseases that were once a death sentence are now treatable. Federal research funding also bolsters Maryland's economy. The National Institutes of Health sent Maryland over a billion dollars ($1,687,675,636) in 2011 for research and training. These NIH grants create jobs and stimulate economic growth in our communities. However, under last year's Budget Control Act, automatic budget cuts will take effect in January unless Congress acts now. This would cut NIH's research budget by up to 11 percent.
Even without sequestration, NIH's ability to support innovative research has been eroding since 2004. Thanks to NIH support, I have been able to spend 24 years at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studying how the intestine helps maintain salt balance as part of its digestive and absorptive functions normally, and how that becomes abnormal in diarrheal diseases. This area of research has helped reduce the number of worldwide deaths caused by diarrheal diseases. But what is to become of the next generation of scientists? It doesn't matter how bright and motivated they are if the money isn't there. Meanwhile, other countries are making research funding a priority.