Albert Einstein was 26 when he published his Special Theory of Relativity; James Watson, at age 25, explained the structure of DNA. Here in Baltimore, many great medical achievements were developed by early-career researchers at Johns Hopkins. "The young do not know enough to be prudent," said Pearl Buck. "They attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation." Today's young American scientists are no less inspired but are discouraged by a perceived lack of opportunity after long, grueling years of training. Unfortunately, the federal budget sequester is turning that perception to reality.
We appreciate the nation's long-term fiscal challenges and recognize that overall spending must be cut. Precisely because of these pressures, not in spite of them, we should reallocate priorities to invest in America's future. It makes no sense to eat our seed corn with across-the-board cuts that don't distinguish between programs that can safely be eliminated and those that produce high returns. Claims that sequestration shaves a mere 2.4 percent ignore the fact that it hacks away disproportionately at discretionary programs that fund young researchers tackling our biggest challenges.
Even greater is the impact on patients. NIH research since the 1970s has helped double survival rates for some cancers and given survivors a greatly improved quality of life. It's produced effective
Choose any medical advance announced by a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company, and chances are the basic science on which it was built emerged from an NIH-funded lab. That's helped extend average life spans by 21/2 years per decade since 1940. Scientists with NIH grants established the foundation for human genome sequencing — a magnificent achievement that led to precision medicine. As a result, doctors can increasingly target disease with more exact and effective treatments designed for your particular genomic profile.
Today, the rising costs of
Our commitment to the future starts with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and carries through to funding by the NIH, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other research agencies. That's not a faucet that can be turned on and off. And at the other end of the development pipeline, sequestration threatens to delay review of new therapies by the
Meanwhile, Singapore, the U.K., Japan, South Korea,
Funding newly trained scientists is not an entitlement, a bet on unproven technologies or a mere expense. As
Michael Milken (firstname.lastname@example.org) is chairman of FasterCures, the Milken Institute center for accelerating medical solutions. Dr. Elias Zerhouni, the former director of the National Institutes of Health and a former Johns Hopkins medical dean, is president of global research and development at Sanofi.