Stimulus money for science

    What happens when the money runs out?

    The stimulus package of last year injected billions of dollars into scientific research. Hundreds of millions landed at research institutions in the Delaware Valley, leading to dozens of new hires and a frenzy of projects. Kerry Grens reports from WHYY’s health and science desk how labs are preparing for when the money runs out.

    Federal stimulus money from last year’s Recovery Act continues to arrive at medical schools and science labs in the Delaware Valley.

    The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, for example, will receive a total of $160 million by 2011. The short-term bolus of funds encouraged a frenzy of research, hiring, and spending on equipment and supplies.

    Gaulton: It’s a sizable amount of money a lot of jobs being created so the challenge is when that money goes away, what’s going to happen to those jobs and what’s going to happen to that science?

    Glen Gaulton is the executive vice dean and chief scientific officer at Penn Medicine. He expects that federal sources of funding will be augmented to continue what the stimulus started.

    Suzanne Miller at Fox Chase Cancer Center is about half way through a million-dollar research project funded with stimulus money. She’s studying how text messaging can support women in keeping them smoke-free after having a baby.

    She says the grant made the study possible, and it created several new research positions. But those jobs are linked to this particular grant, which will run out in about a year.

    Miller: Their jobs are linked to this funding, but the expectation is that we can capitalize and build on this funding in order to secure future funding.

    Scientists are lobbying for greater research budgets at the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to continue what the stimulus started.

    But projections for next year’s budget fall short of what scientists are lobbying for, and labs may have to scale back research and lose staff. The president’s budget requested an extra billion dollars for NIH – just one tenth of what it received from the stimulus.

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