Sequester impact: Cures for disease, illness may be slowed because of automatic spending cuts

Scientists concerned

JUPITER, Fla. -- Years of scientific research into cures for diseases and illnesses could be slowed or stopped because of the across-the-board, automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.

The cuts, which are expected to go into effect on Friday, would cut hundreds of millions of dollars given to scientists for research by the National Institutes of Health, including some at The Scripps Research Institute.

"2013 is going to be a bad time to have good ideas," said Laura Niedernhofer, an associate professor in the Department of Metabolism & Aging at Scripps Florida. "Congress is sort of saying, "let's kick the can down the road." But, you can't do that with science. You can't turn off the faucet [and] turn it back on. It's going to be a horrible disruption."

Niedernhofer said she and a team of 40 scientists had spent the past five years researching ways to make the aging less frail.

The research, which shows great promise, may go nowhere.

Advances in cancer research and cures or new treatments for diabetes or Alzheimer's Disease could also be impacted, scientists said.

"There's going to be just a devastating effect to innovative research in America," Niedernhofer said. "Some of the projects will simply be lost. There is no way to resurrect them. You can't put science on hold."

The cuts are part of $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years that were created as an incentive for Congress to reduce the deficit.

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