Unless the federal government makes changes aimed at attracting talented minds to conduct research, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) says the country is in danger of losing its next generation of scientists.
Baldwin met Tuesday with officials and students at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research in Madison, where she outlined plans for a bill she hopes will strengthen the work being done in labs across the country. Baldwin’s legislation, called “The Next Generation Research Act,” would direct the National Institutes of Health to focus on developing policies that support researchers and provide incentives for younger minds to pursue the work.
AUDIO: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (:54)
Under the federal budget cuts from sequestration, the NIH stands to lose about $1.5 billion this year, while millions more will be shifted to other agencies. That follows nearly a decade of flat funding at the NIH, which Baldwin says has also pushed back the average age of researchers receiving grants to 42-years-old, compared to 36 in 1980. Without the hope of accessing that funding after college, Baldwin worries the current generation will abandon their work and those graduating high school will look to other career options instead.
Baldwin’s bill would not directly increase funding to the NIH, focusing instead on developing policies that support researchers through incentives and mentorships. It also directs the NIH and National Academy of Sciences to issue reports on what can be done to improve entry into and sustain careers in biomedical research.
Baldwin hopes to introduce the bill in the U.S. Senate this fall.