Looming cuts to federal budget could affect UT’s research competitiveness

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Looming cuts to the federal budget, also known as sequestration, could endanger research funding at UT and other universities across the nation.

Sequestration would cut federal spending by 8 to 10 percent across the board, which could take out $60 billion federal research over the next four years.

The cuts were originally meant to take place last January as a part of the collective tax increases and spending cuts that made up the “fiscal cliff,” but were delayed until March 1.

According to UT professor Alan Lambowitz, director of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Congress’ failure to prevent the sequester could be a substantial blow the available funds of federal agencies which awarded more than $154 million to UT researchers in 2011.

“An immediate effect is that many National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation research grants that have already been reviewed and received high priority scores will no longer be funded,” Lambowitz said.

Additionally, Lambowitz said the funding of existing research projects would also be cut.

Now, groups such as the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Science Coalition are urging Congress to stop the sequester. The groups argue that cuts to research would set the nation back in innovation and advancement.

The three organizations have collaborated to create ScienceWorksForU.S., an outreach project focused on demonstrating “the tremendous impact that federally funded university-based scientific research has on the nation and on the lives of all Americans,” according to the joint organizations.

In addition to halting promising research, researchers also argue the sequester would harm the nation by arresting the opportunities for students to engage in research.

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