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Obama uses ROI of genome mapping to defend research funding at SOTU

Reporter: Veronica Combs
Source: Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News

Feb. 13, 2013

President Barack Obama used his fifth State of the Union address last night to repeat his annual call to increase basic research funding—a plea with added significance this year, as he and Congressional leaders struggle to avoid across-the-board spending cuts that would shrink NIH among other agencies.

Obama and Congress at deadline remain deadlocked on how to cut at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years, as promised under the 2011 Budget Control Act. The fiscal-cliff accord they reached around the New Year’s holiday postponed the deadline for action to March 1—after which, according to the budget act, all non-defense federal agencies must cut their spending by a flat 5.1% for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

“Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s. We’re developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs,” Obama said. “Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. We need to make those investments.”

Obama justified research spending by citing the estimate of economic impact of the Human Genome Project (HGP) trumpeted recently by NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute. According to a Battelle Technology Partnership Practice report commissioned by Life Technologies Foundation, HGP spending between 1990 and 2003 amounted to $3.8 billion, but generated an economic impact of $796 billion—a $141-to-1 return.

Read more on Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.


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