publication date: Jul. 26, 2019

Guest Editorial

The cost of underfunding research and the lingering dread of unstable funding

Candace Johnson (1)

By Candace S. Johnson, PhD

President and CEO, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center


The pit in my stomach used to come once a year.

It was predictable—a sinking feeling that would arrive every February when the president proposed the next year’s federal budget. Along with thousands of other cancer researchers and patient advocates around the country, I would nervously scan news coverage looking to see what levels of funding were requested for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.

Would this critically needed funding be targeted for a reduction? How much would be cut—2%, 6%, more? Could our local congressional delegation restore the funds that keep our labs operating and patients’ hopes alive? Will Congress even agree on a budget this year?

Unfortunately, the annual dread I felt now lingers year-round. It is a result of the uncertainty around federal funding that has become the norm, and it is an uncertainty that policymakers in Washington seem unable to address.

Failure to fund our government on time is a chronic condition. The last time Congress and the president enacted all of the federal spending bills by the end of the fiscal year was 1997. Without on-time funding, our government shuts down—unless Congress passes short-term spending … Continue reading The cost of underfunding research and the lingering dread of unstable funding

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