Columbia University Medical Center

Will Cuts Discourage Future Scientists? — Sabine Z. Bousleiman

I’m concerned about the risks NIH budget cuts would pose to research like ours in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They could mean fewer grants for our work and less funding for approved grants.

But cuts will also have an impact on my high school-aged daughter’s generation, which is why she and her cousin came with me to the Rally for Medical Research in Washington, D.C.

My daughter Jamie has known since she was little that she wants to be a researcher. And perhaps because of my sister’s experience with breast cancer four years ago, Jamie decided it was her calling to work toward a cure for cancer.  She’s already in a medical science program at Bergen County Academies in New Jersey. The fact that there are specialized high school programs promoting research among students at a young age is important.  Jamie’s research mentor Dr. Pergolozzi was an NIH-funded associate professor at Cornell; he chose to leave academia to teach research to younger minds. I think she is inspired by him.

When I told my daughter about the rally, and explained the impact NIH cuts could have on cancer research, she asked whether she and her cousin Chantal could come with me.  And we were glad we did.

We went to D.C. to convey to Congress how important secure funding is to medical research.  As future scientists like Jamie and others look toward their futures, and start applying for college, they need to know there are opportunities in the health sciences. But NIH cuts do not send a positive message. Will they be discouraged and consider different professions? They need to be reassured that there is funding and support when they need it.

Read more perspectives from the CUMC community on the importance of NIH funds.