Quick hit: How sequestration screws over breast cancer researchers

At TPM Cafe today, there’s a great piece about how sequestration cuts are making it harder for scientists to do research on lifesaving medical treatments:

The sequester was supposed to be so draconian that it would drive politicians to accept some alternative budget compromise. Unfortunately compromise seems to be a dirty word in Washington, and it has become almost dogma for some that any government spending is inherently wrong and should be opposed on principle. But does that really extend to scientific biomedical research that can save lives?

Some types of government spending are crucial and necessary. These investments include not only breast cancer research, but all avenues of basic scientific research funded by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Private industry rarely funds very basic research because it needs a return on investment within two to five years at the most. The government is the only entity with enough patience and deep enough pockets to fund long-term basic research. Private foundations are not even in the same league in dollar amounts. The entire research budgets of charities such as Komen for the Cure ($75M) and the American Cancer Society ($160M) combined are less than the 5 percent sequester cut to the $4.8 billion National Cancer Institute budget.

The biggest breakthroughs, the fundamental advances that enable the development of new cancer drugs for leukemia or melanoma or triple-drug cocktails that keep HIV in check, come from scientists working not in private industry, but at universities, nonprofit research institutions and government labs that are funded by these agencies, and ultimately by the American taxpayer.

It’s not enough that veterans can’t get mental healthcare, or that schools are eliminating their special ed resources? Now we’re also stuck with a system where cancer patients, their families, and the scientists trying to help them are screwed over, and the progress of scientific inquiry and knowledge are hampered, potentially for decades? Fuck you, sequestration.

You can read the whole thing here.

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