The sequester jeopardizes more than airline punctuality
Check out my op-ed that appears in the San Francisco Chronicle today. I am proud to lead a university that's making major contributions to the war on cancer. I didn't want to miss this opportunity to remind the public of the benefits of their investment in the University of California. Here it is:
Medical research must not be cut
Researchers announced major advances last week in the quest to decode the genetics of cancer, at last empowering clinicians to begin developing personalized treatments for two forms of the disease: acute myeloid leukemia and uterine cancer.
The advances will help doctors classify tumors based on genetic similarities rather than by the affected organs, dramatically improving their ability to
tailor treatment plans for individual patients. Imagine the triumph that represents for patients and their doctors. Such clinical applications are the longed-for outcome of basic research.
My own campus is home to a squad of brilliant self-described “computer geeks” who manage the nationwide warehouse of cancer genomic data — the Cancer Genomics Hub. These technology wizards are driven by a profound desire to conquer cancer, and after years of behind-the-scenes work, the benefits of basic scientific research are reaching patients. That’s why it’s agonizing to see federal support of scientific research jeopardized by sequester-triggered budget cuts. Across the country, federal agencies that are subject to the sequester provide vital funding for cutting-edge research, including the study of cancer genomics. The National Institutes of Health faces a 5 percent cut. That might not sound like much until you ask yourself: Which patients, suffering from which diseases, can we turn away from?
That’s not even factoring in the fact that federally funded research has kept the United States at the forefront of global technology for decades.
The question for all of us: How can we allow this to happen? Focus for a moment on cancer. How many times have you or your loved ones been touched by cancer? Now, finally at the precipice of a revolution, how can we say we can’t afford this quest?
If Washington can agree that airline punctuality warrants budgetary intervention, surely we must raise our voices and demand protection of cancer research.
The war on cancer is only one example of the societal benefits of nationally funded research — work that fuels our economy and keeps us on the cusp of technological innovation. Please join me in calling for robust funding of research in the public interest. Each step forward serves the public good.
Comments or questions? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Research" in the subject line.