Durbin: House Cuts to Medical Research Funding Put Illinois Jobs at Risk and Jeopardize America's Leading Role in Bio-Medical Research

Last year, Illinois received over $884 million in NIH funding, creating or supporting nearly 12,000 jobs

[CHICAGO, IL] – Thousands of medical research jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity are at risk as the result of drastic federal spending cuts proposed by the House of Representatives to the National Institute of Health’s budget, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today at Northwestern University’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. The federal spending bill for the current fiscal year (FY11), which was approved by the House early Saturday morning, included a $1.6 billion cut to the NIH, America’s leading medical research agency and the foremost biomedical research institute in the world.  The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“By slashing the funding for NIH medical research, the House Continuing Resolution threatens the preeminence of NIH and America’s position as the leader in biomedical research,” Durbin said. “Not only would these spending cuts slow or halt important medical research, they would result in significant job losses and a slowdown in local business activity in communities across the state.”

Every $1 investment in medical research stimulates $2.43 in business activity – such as support staff, supplies, food services, and building development, according to a recent Families USA study. Last year, Illinois received $884 million in NIH funding – $775 million of which went to research centers in the Chicagoland area – which created or supported nearly 12,000 jobs across the state. In 2007, the most recent year for which this data is available, NIH funding generated $1.8 billion dollars of business activity in Illinois.

The impact of the proposed cuts on research would be significant. Many of the projects that had been counting on a steady funding stream would have to be suspended or slowed significantly while waiting for next phase funding. Those projects could lose lab space, talent and be forced to halt clinical trials in progress and lay off technicians unless they could find non-federal dollars to support their work.

At the same time, new projects would be unlikely to be funded. This would have a ripple effect on the biotech industry, construction, and other industries that support research.

“Our nation could lose a new generation of scientists. Fewer available funds means fewer academic grants to educate young scientists. And more competition for grants makes it difficult for young scientists to win funding, discouraging young, bright scientists from pursuing careers in research. This mindless cut is a clear signal that the House bill is not the product of a thoughtful effort. America must cut spending but it cannot abandon its leadership in research and innovation,” Durbin said.

Of the $884 million in NIH funds awarded to Illinois last year, nearly $733 million came through FY2010 appropriations.  The remainder of the NIH funding was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Of the $775 million in NIH funds for Chicago, there was $635 million for FY2010, with the remainder through the Recovery Act.