The cost and value of research

By David S. Stephens | Academic Exchange | June 19, 2013

David S. Stephens

David S.Stephens, vice president for research, Woodruff Health Sciences Center

On March 1, 2013 President Obama issued an order canceling $85 billion in spending across the federal government for fiscal year 2013, which ends on September 30. For research, this sequester translates into a 5 percent reduction in federal grants, which last year totaled $351 million at Emory. Emory will lose an estimated $17.5 million in research funding, with additional impact on federal work-study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. But this may be just the beginning. Without a congressional agreement to stop the sequester, the federal government will need to cut $1.2 trillion in the next decade, and our loss of research grants and support will magnify many fold. 

This is a chilling message to our country, our institution, and our mission. 

Sustained federal funding to support innovative research has been a cornerstone of our national success and our success as a university. As a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an association of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada, we are dedicated to “high quality programs of academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education in a number of fields, with the general recognition that “a university is outstanding” — and its reputation buil t— “by reason of the excellence of its research and education programs,” programs that are often interwoven and inextricably linked.

The federal budget crisis, continued declines in real purchasing power of research dollars, sequestration, declines in the return on endowments, pressures on other revenue streams, and competing unit priorities threaten to cut support and derail Emory’s research mission. In this difficult environment it is important to rearticulate both the cost and the immense return on investment of research for Emory and our country. 

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