The Impact of Sequestration

The Impact of Sequestration

Federal cuts may jeopardize

lifesaving breakthroughs

Sequestration reduces the National Institutes of Health budget by 5.1 percent and many Fred Hutch grants are seeing greater cuts. Scroll down for the latest news on how this could translate into lost jobs and lost lives.

Senator Patty Murray working to avoid another budget crisis

Senator Patty Murray

Senator Patty Murray

Washington Sen. Patty Murray will lead a group of 27 other lawmakers who will meet in hopes of working out the competing budget resolutions between congressional Republicans and Democrats. The hope is to avoid another budget crisis such as the one that led to the 16-day partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

Murray said that among the potential consequences of leaving the budget unresolved could be a "shuttering" of research at Fred Hutch.

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Varmus's Second Act

Dr. Harold Varmus

Dr. Harold Varmus is director of the National Cancer Institute.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Oct. 25, 2013

Under the leadership of Dr. Harold Varmus, the National Cancer Institute acheived a five-year budget doubling; however the Nobel Prize-winning virologist is now helping the institution deal with depleted resources and the aftermath of the partial government shutdown. Read Jocelyn Kaiser's article in the Oct. 25 issue of Science.

NIH Director sings "Sequester Blues"

The automatic budget cuts in particular categories of federal spending, commonly known as sequestration or the sequester, went into effect March 1 and have had a direct impact on medical research. Dr. Francis. S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and a musician, has found an entertaining way to express his feelings about the sequester by penning and singing his tune, “Sequester Blues.”

Funding cuts imperil clinical trials

July 25, 2013

In an interview on National Public Radio’s “Science Friday,” Dr. Alan Kristal talked about his recent study linking Omega-3 fatty acids to prostate cancer. The end of the interview features a critical exchange about medical research funding. “The effect of the decreased federal funding for scientific research has been profound...The possibility of getting large clinical trials done to examine either nutrition or test dietary supplements just doesn’t exist,” Kristal said.

Listen to the interview >

Sequester pushes small cancer clinics to the brink

June 27, 2013

The sequester cut chemotherapy drug reimbursements for Medicare patients, forcing some clinics to send those patients elsewhere and making it more likely that small oncology practices will fold or be absorbed by larger networks, according to a report by the Community Oncology Alliance.

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How the sequester hurts cancer patients

June 25, 2013

Clinical trials give many patients their only chance to survive cancer, but federal budget cuts threaten to stall or eliminate many of these trials nationwide, according to an opinion piece in U.S. News & World Report.

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Austerity causes top scientists to leave Spain. Could it happen here?

June 17, 2013

More than 40,000 Spanish scientists have signed a petition calling for an end to government budget cuts, according to National Public Radio. They say austerity is causing an exodus of the country's best and brightest researchers. Could the same thing happen in the U.S.?

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Budget crisis puts potential breakthroughs on hold

June 12, 2013

reports on how funding cuts at the National Institutes of Health are taking $18 million out of Fred Hutch's $275 million budget and slowing progress toward new brain treatments.

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NIH: Research cuts delay progress on cancer drugs

June 4, 2013

A new National Institutes of Health fact sheet details how sequestration delays progress toward medical breakthroughs, including cancer drugs that zero in on tumors with fewer side effects. The fact sheet sheds new light on how the NIH is coping with $1.55 billion in budget cuts this year, painting a grim picture of impact on jobs and discoveries.

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NIH cuts chasing away top young scientists

May 29, 2013

CNBC chronicles how federal budget cuts are causing some young scientists to rethink their careers, potentially sidelining the next generation of new discoveries.

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Researcher turns to the crowd to fund ovarian cancer tool

Dr. Bonnie McGregor

May 24, 2013

In the face of sequestration and flat funding, researchers are turning to new avenues for financial support. Dr. Bonnie McGregor is the first at the Hutch to launch a crowdfunding campaign, which is aimed at developing an interactive wellness intervention program for ovarian cancer survivors.

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How the sequester hinders basic science

Dr. Jonathan Cooper

May 22, 2013

The sequester could have a big impact on the basic scientific research that’s the foundation beneath many new treatments. Fred Hutch’s blog caught up with Dr. Jonathan Cooper, director of the Center’s Basic Sciences Division, to learn more about what the current funding climate means for this key area. “Many of us are cutting our own salaries,” Cooper said.

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M.D. Anderson launches austerity plan to cope with financial pressures

May 20, 2013

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is freezing salaries and postponing capital projects to cope with sequestration and other challenges, according to the Houston Chronicle. “If we don’t make changes now, we potentially will find ourselves in a crisis that will force us to take drastic measures that could hurt our ability to meet our mission,” M.D. Anderson President Ronald DePinho wrote in an email announcement.

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NIH cuts may force top Fred Hutch scientist to give up research

Dr. Barry Stoddard

May 16, 2013

Dr. Barry Stoddard is developing tools that could revolutionize treatment for cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia and Parkinson’s disease. He’s a leader in his field and has a 20-year track record of success. But the current NIH funding climate is so bad that Stoddard thinks there’s a 50-50 chance he’ll give up academic research at the end of next year. “If I can’t find funding, I’ll go find a new career,” he says.

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Sen. Patty Murray, Fred Hutch call for NIH funding to be restored

May 15, 2013

Sen. Patty Murray called on Congress to restore full funding to the National Institutes of Health, and highlighted how NIH-backed research saves lives and creates jobs. Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Larry Corey applauded Murray's efforts. "The impacts of sequestration are real: measurable in lost jobs, lost discoveries, lost years of scientific progress and most importantly, lost lives," he said.

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Sequester adds to financial pressure on small cancer clinics

May 13, 2013

The sequester is partly to blame as more cancer patients are being forced switch clinics in the middle of their treatments. Federal budget cuts slice Medicare payments to the point that some cancer clinics have to turn Medicare patients away, while others are closing altogether, according to a story in Roll Call.

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Sequester could cost UW Medicine more than $3 million a month

May 9, 2013

In a video, UW Medicine's Dr. John Slattery details how federal budget cuts could delay progress on innovative treatments for everything from cancer to kidney disease to rheumatoid arthritis – treatments that are on the cusp of improving patients' lives.

NIH director turns to Twitter to gauge sequester's impact

May 8, 2013

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, invited Twitter users to chime in on how the sequester is affecting biomedical research. The responses paint an ominous picture, from "A great post doc and friend got fired today from our lab because our RO1 was cutback" to "I had to refuse to take on a once-in-a-decade graduate student" to "Nothing will impact treating patients more in the long term than poorly funded basic science."

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New York Times: Cancer researchers feeling sequester squeeze

May 7, 2013

In a story on the sequester's early impacts, Jonathan Weisman outlines how two cancer research centers are feeling the cuts. The Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama, Birmingham is looking at layoffs. And the director of the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego says sequestration comes at the worst possible time, when researchers are nearing pivotal treatments.

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Brain cancer researcher sees two grants slashed

Dr. Jim Olson

May 1, 2013

Dr. Jim Olson recently received two emails – within five minutes of each other – announcing that two key federal grants would receive less than half the funding that he was promised. "I lost six salaries," he said.

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Fred Hutch warns of layoffs

April 30, 2013

Dr. Fred Appelbaum told Sen. Patty Murray that sequestration will lead to job cuts at Fred Hutch, though the number and timing are uncertain. His comments came during a roundtable discussion with Murray and were featured in a Seattle Times story.

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Sen. Patty Murray visits Fred Hutch to see cuts' possible toll

Senator Patty Murray

April 29, 2013

Sen. Patty Murray met with Fred Hutch researchers and detailed how, because of sequestration, the local medical research sector will lose $43 million in funding. "This can't help but translate into lives lost, into jobs lost...and into people who are going to try other careers or take their research elsewhere," Murray said.

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Fred Hutch president lobbies Capitol Hill to prevent sequester

Dr. Larry Corey

March 24, 2013

Dr. Larry Corey, Fred Hutch's president and director, met with key U.S. senators and representatives in Washington, D.C., warning them that the sequester could derail a generation of researchers. His visit was featured in the Seattle Times.

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How sequestration could hinder cutting-edge immunotherapies

Feb. 22, 2013

In an interview with KING-TV, Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Larry Corey and immunotherapy researcher Dr. Stan Riddell detail how sequestration could slow research on new treatments that use the immune system to eradicate cancer.