On Thursday, December 12, 2013, the U.S. House passed a bipartisan budget deal that Congressional leaders had first announced two days before. Atlanta-based medical researchers, who have complained about cuts to the National Institutes of Health, which provides much of their Federal funding, say they are relieved. And they say people hoping for cures, or improved treatments, for diseases like cancer should be encouraged, too.
Dr. Gianluca Tosini chairs the Department of Pharmacology at the Morehouse School of Medicine. The two-year budget deal won’t restore all of the automatic program cuts called sequestration. But Dr. Tosini expects some money will flow back into studies like the one he’s doing on the effects of shift work on people’s health.
"We had been slowed down," Dr. Tosini told WABE. "This will probably allow us to go back to where we were. So, that's very important."
David Pugach is the Federal Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. He said the automatic 5% sequestration cuts have had a real effect on research at places like Morehouse and Emory.
Said Pugach, "You saw grantees reducing the scope of their work; having to divert their attention from their labs to having to look for alternative sources of funding; and a reduction in access from cancer patients and others to clinical trials as well."
But while the relief for researchers is palpable, the anxiety is not gone completely. Pugach said it will take more negotiations to figure out which programs will be at the front of the line for restored funding.