Threat to research funding prompts outcry from Bay State university presidents and hospital executives

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The threat of deep spending cuts to begin in January if Congress does not act has prompted 16 Massachusetts university presidents and hospital executives to fire off letters today to the Bay State delegation, pleading with them to adopt deficit reduction strategies that preserve federal funding for scientific research.

In jeopardy is the state’s multi-billion research enterprise. If automatic across-the-board budget cuts outlined by the 2011 debt deal come to a head on January 2, Massachusetts stands to lose $3.1 billion over five years, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

That includes funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“The federal dollars we receive have a return far beyond their initial investment, acting as a significant magnet for private sector dollars that spur job creation in Massachusetts and beyond,” according to the letter provided to the Globe.

The state’s biomedical sector, which received $2.5 billion in medical research funds from the NIH in fiscal year 2011, also received more than $1 billion in venture capital money. Between 2007 and 2011, the biotechnology research sector added 3,521 jobs in Massachusetts, the letter said, more than any other state during that time in that sector.

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