Damon Runyon Blog

April 7, 2017

Supporters of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation have been steadfast in their support of our work to identify and enable new generations of the most promising young scientists across the nation so that cancer research will continue to have an influx of brilliant and creative researchers with fresh ideas who are capable of making the next breakthrough against this devastating disease.


This pipeline of new talent is increasingly at risk, all the more so given the new administration’s proposal to cut the National Institutes of Health's budget for next year by 20 percent, and more recently by suggesting an immediate $1.2 billion cut.


The proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute would be devastating to both cancer researchers and a nation that depends on them for the next big breakthroughs.  During the 21st Century, NIH funding has experienced budget cuts, sequestration and inflationary losses.  Grant applications today only have an 18% chance of being funded, compared to more than 30% 15-20 years ago. With the proposed cuts, this rate will plummet.


While the nonprofit sector continues to step up to support research, it cannot come close to meeting the need.  Last year, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology surveyed 3,700 scientists and found that only 2% of scientists could find private funds to make up for the loss of federal grants.


Cutting federal support for biomedical research sends a clear message to young people that biomedical research is a bad career choice. They see even the most successful established scientists scramble to get funding, spending 40% of their time on average writing grants instead of actually conducting cutting edge research.  As a result, many of the best and brightest are choosing to leave science or never consider the career at all; causing a brain drain that threatens future progress. We see it even among the superstars we fund.


We firmly believe that to continue to have US dominance in biomedical research and to find cures for human diseases, we need to demonstrate to our most talented young people that if they choose research careers, they will have the support they need to be successful.  This does not require massive increases in NIH funding, but does require a commitment to maintaining predictable, sustained funding into the future, rather than the boom and bust funding of recent years.


We urge the Administration to work with Congress to create a mechanism for sustaining current NIH funding on at least an inflation-adjusted basis to ensure that the our county's R&D remains the greatest in the world because our best minds are racing to make the next breakthroughs.


I encourage everyone who feels passionately about supporting science to speak up –  together our voices will be heard. Contact your members of Congress, support groups like ours and, if you’re so motivated, take part in one of the upcoming March for Science events taking place across the country and around the world on April 22.


Lorraine Egan

President and CEO

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation