Riding the science budget rollercoaster: time to hurl or cheer?

roller coaster

The uncertainty regarding the Federal FY2011 budget has taken a big toll on many throughout the country, including the biomedical science community.  Given the fiscal uncertainty, NIH has been forced to wait to make decisions on a host of research proposals. Congress has really given NIH no other option but to wait. In turn, scores of scientists have been in a holding pattern, unable to proceed with making decisions about research that, while evaluated by study sections as outstanding, remains unclear if it will be funded.

The latest news on the $38.5 in cuts that Congress and President Obama reportedly agreed upon gives reason for some very cautious optimism. California Healthline reports that NIH will apparently be spared the $500 million in cuts that Republicans wanted, as was suggested by a post on the White House blog over the weekend. Here’s the relevant passage from Cal Healthline:

Although NIH would be spared a $500 million cut to biomedical research, plans to double the funding for research and development at the National Science Foundation and other agencies would be scaled back, CQ Today reports

Unfortunately CQ Today is available only be subscription so we can’t read it (yet) ourselves. Working on it.

Another article, this one in The Nation, seems far more pessimistic, but is basically a bunch of understandable worrying without any facts. Very vague.

More specific and hopefully clear facts on the $38.5 billion in cuts are supposed to be coming out today so stay tuned. The bottom line, however, is we can’t be sure until the “agreed upon” bill passes both Houses and is signed by Obama, which has to happen by Friday or more chaos will follow.

There is also reason to be very concerned about what the Republicans have in mind in the way of cuts for FY2011, but first let’s see if we can get concrete answers about FY 2010.

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