Excerpts from Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity

In the summer, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and 15 partner organizations conducted a survey of over 3,700 scientists from all fields of research. Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity chronicles the effects of budget cuts and sequestration on scientists from around the nation. Here are two excerpts from that report.

I am amongst a growing list of scientists that the federal government has spent $200,000 to $400,000 to educate and train since the early 1990s. The expectation was that we would have the opportunity to show U.S. taxpayers a return on their investment by becoming (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) leaders and innovators far into the middle of the 21st century. Unfortunately, the current funding climate presents the real possibility that the taxpayers may witness a significant loss in their investment.

  • Postdoctoral scholar from the University of Pennsylvania

Due to sequestration and flat budgets for federal science funding agencies, rigorously trained scientists are losing their jobs. This is not just a job loss for the individual, but also a loss for the American taxpayers as the money spent to train these individuals is an investment by the government. The loss of highly trained scientists will ultimately lead to a postponement of groundbreaking discoveries in all scientific sectors. The government has already invested in the training of these researchers, and sequestration and the stagnant federal budget continue to threaten this federal investment.

This funding environment can’t be sustained much longer. The dearth of funding will have secondary effects on education, launching of new biotechnology companies, and sales of scientific supplies. Jobs will be lost, and talented people will need to find employment that does not take advantage of their knowledge or experience.

  • Professor from the New York University School of Medicine

Federal funds for scientific research support jobs at multiple levels: professors, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, industrial employees and more. Sequestration and a flat federal budget reduce the number of grants awarded to labs and thus, the number of jobs available significantly decreases and research is curtailed. Highly trained scientists with vital skill sets are consequently being lost from the research enterprise. By overturning the sequester and making a strong, sustained federal investment in science research, the government can create new job opportunities that will lead to monumental discoveries.

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