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Decline in NIH funding affecting local researchers

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Jobs and medical breakthroughs could be at stake unless Washington boosts funding for the National Institutes of Health. According to Rep. Brian Higgins, NIH funding last year, adjusted for inflation, was 22 percent less than 2003 levels. Instead of looking for cures, he says researchers often spend valuable time searching for dollars.

The decline in NIH grants is said to be affecting local researchers. Many jobs for those researchers, including those at the University at Buffalo, depend on NIH funding.

Hauptman Woodward Research Institute CEO Dr. Eaton Lattman says those involved in biomedical research are often accused of being self-serving when they seek increased funding.

"Worldwide problems such the Ebola virus outbreak, the rapid spread of  microbes resistant to antibiotics, and the diabetes epidemic are objective evidence of the need for more research and better treatment," Lattman said Monday.

Legislation proposed in the House by Higgins would gradually increase NIH funding over seven years. Similar legislation is being introduced in the Senate. Higgins says the United States's lack of investments in scientific research, infrastructure and education puts the nation behind.

"Not only do you lose important research, you lose important researchers. The United States has let its commitment to medical research lag and American researchers are paying the price," Higgins said.

The South Buffalo Democrat says investing in medical research should be a national priority for the jobs it creates and the lives it saves.