The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology called for a re-examination of the way research is funded in the U.S., in a report detailing the challenges facing researchers and the threats to continued progress in the field.
The report, Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Science: A Framework for Discussion, presents a series of recommendations to alleviate them.
Shortfalls in federal funding and rising regulatory costs have constrained research budgets, while at the same time, scientific opportunities have expanded and more individuals are seeking funding, the report says. These opposing trends have resulted in an increasingly unstable research enterprise, delaying scientific discovery.
FASEB’s recommendations fall into three categories:
• Increased advocacy for predictable, sustainable growth in research budgets while striving to make optimal use of existing resources
• Re-examination of the way research is funded, making certain that we provide incentives to encourage the best science and reduce the amount of time spent seeking funding, and
• Improved preparation and utilization of the workforce.
“After adjusting for inflation, the federal investment in the life science has declined by more than 20 percent since 2003,” the report says. “Insufficient funding—along with increased regulatory burden and budgetary uncertainty—is a growing obstacle to future advancement.” FASEB recommends that, due to this budget uncertainty, federal research agencies should be able to carry over their budgets into the following fiscal year.
The organization also called for a reduction of the time spent preparing and reviewing grant applications, and that sponsors should consider extending the duration of investigator-initiated awards to decrease the amount of effort spent on competing for funding.
The report is available on FASEB’s website.