The massive budget cuts of sequestration dealt a blow to scientific research in the U.S. Sequester didn't simply delay or threaten ongoing projects but pushed young scientists to leave the country or change careers. And now, just months later, the shutdown is doubling or tripling down on that damage. Sam Stein reports:
For nearly the past two weeks, many of them have been denied access to work, either because the agencies that employ them have been shut down or because the facilities where they operate have been closed. The Obama administration announced Friday that four of the five Nobel Prize-winning researchers currently working for the federal government were “furloughed and unable to conduct their federal research.”Considering the Republican response to other aspects of the shutdown and sequester, we can probably expect Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann to hold a press conference any minute now denouncing the fact that American scientists have yet to cure cancer. While shut out of their jobs by House Republicans.
Nobel Prize winners without work are the most notable examples of the damage caused by the shutdown, but the impact is far wider.
Several scientists wrote to The Huffington Post warning that an extended absence could set back their research for years. Stockpiles of lab organisms (mice, fruit flies, and plants, for example) “take years to grow and need to be handled on a daily basis to be kept alive,” wrote one scientist, who asked not to be named. “Treatments in experiments are administered at regular time intervals. One missed treatment creates bad data and diminishes publishing opportunities.”