Boston med researchers, pols feeling ill over federal health spending cuts

Massachusetts General Hospital mgh boston
Massachusetts General Hospital.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/METRO

Boston’s medical researchers and politicians are feeling ill and despite the Hub being home to some of the nation’s leading medical facilities, the cure for their ailment lies in Washington, D.C.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and some of the city’s leading medical research heads expressed concern on Monday over the looming across-the-board federal spending cuts that could put in danger one of the city’s most important sectors.

If lawmakers don’t come to an agreement on budget cuts and act by March 1, more than $1.2 trillion in automatic government-wide spending cuts over the next 10 years will take effect, which could negatively impact the more than $1 billion Boston facilities typically get each year in National Institutes of Health grants.

“The research these scientists do is mind-blowing, and the idea that Congress could slash their funding next month is mind-boggling,” said Menino. “The doctors … have made it their life’s work to improve people’s lives. I hope in the coming days we can say the same about Congress.”

Leaders from area hospitals and research universities briefed Menino and Warren Monday at Boston Medical Center on the dangers of cuts to NIH research funding.

With various universities, hospitals and medical research facilities in Boston, the city receives more NIH funding than any other city in the nation. In 2011, those facilities in the city received a combined $1.7 billion in funding.

Dr. Bob Kingston, the chief of molecular biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said one of his biggest concerns is that funding cuts could lead to a cut in the “next generation of great scientists.”

“It’s an issue for people who are 30 to 40 years old who are largely and completely depending on NIH research funding,” said Kingston, who is also a Harvard professor. “Those are the people who are going to be driving research forward in the future and the big issue with cutting NIH funding is that you’re eliminating a generation by dramatically decreasing the ability of those people to stay in science.”

Quoted

“NIH funding plays a key role in supporting life-saving medical research at Boston’s world-class hospitals and universities. Across-the-board spending cuts are bad for Massachusetts and bad for the country.” -Sen. Elizabeth Warren
What’s funded:
NIH grants help fund research on countless illnesses and treatments including:
*A Boston College biologist whose research focuses on immunological cells in a range of illnesses that strike people living with HIV and AIDS was recently awarded a five-year, $2.7 million NIH grant.
*Boston’s colleges and universities received more than $550 million in NIH funding grants in 2011.
*Many of the city’s hospitals receive hundreds of millions of dollars in NIH funding each year. In 2011, MGH topped the list with more than $343 million.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…