Bio Matters: Federal research funding cuts hurt Oklahoma

Sheri Stickley: Oklahoma's economy benefits from research and development dollars that flow from the National Institutes of Health.
By Sheri Stickley Published: January 20, 2013
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Federal funding has a direct impact on Oklahomans' health as well. OU's Harold Hamm Diabetes Center recently received a $10.8 million NIH grant to continue funding an important research and mentoring program.

Diabetes is an especially costly disease for Oklahoma. More than 10 percent of Oklahoma adults have diabetes, while the national average is 6.2 percent.

Federally funded R&D faces a significant threat. While Congress dealt with the tax side of the “fiscal cliff” in the early hours of the New Year, automatic spending cuts still loom.

At a recent Congressional hearing, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins expressed concerns that an estimated $2.4 billion in cuts to NIH for FY 2013, if enacted, would “do serious damage” to progress in medical research.

If the cuts are enacted, Oklahoma could lose out on more than $9 million in NIH funding annually. Loss of federal research dollars will almost inevitably be bad for our health, bad for our economy, and bad for Oklahoma.

Sheri Stickley is president and CEO of the Oklahoma Bioscience Association, www.okbio.org