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Proposed Cuts in Research

April 22, 1985

We, the faculty of the neurobiology section at the University of Southern California, wish to respond to your front-page article (March 20) on proposed cuts in federal support for biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health.

We feel that the Office of Management and Budget has clearly circumvented the will of our elected representatives by its decision not to fund 1,500 of the 6,500 research grants approved by Congress for 1985. While we are appreciative of the supportive tone of your article, we feel that two points require further comment.

First, you conclude that in the short term, this cutback will have only minor effects on the researchers you profiled, since they are well funded from alternate sources. While this may be true for a few well established laboratories, it is not universally so.

In many labs, especially those run by more junior scientists, the immediate effects could be catastrophic. Because of recent growth in our national commitment to research on neurological diseases, there are at present a large number of young scientists who, after six to 10 years of postgraduate education and training, have begun to make important contributions. Without timely support, many will lose their positions as faculty and staff members at our universities and research institutions.

The loss of these individuals into alternate careers in medicine and industry will surely diminish our current national stature as the world leader in neurological research. This unjustified and unrealistic action by the Reagan Administration has seriously demoralized those in the scientific community that we can least afford to lose.

Second, we are concerned about the attitude of Edwin Dale, the OMB spokesperson. If scientists write more letters of complaint to OMB than do members of other special interest groups, perhaps it is because we are more convinced of the importance of our work. Dale is correct in stating that, with our large budget deficit, hard choices must be made. But the choice should not be between funding health-related research or feeding the poor. In a nation with the proper priorities, both are possible.

GEORGE J. AUGUSTINE

WILLIAM L. BYERLY

ALBERT A. HERRERA

WILLIAM O. McCLURE

BERNARD C. ABBOTT

CALEB FINCH

GEORGE P. MILJANICH

CHIEN-PING KO

MOHAMAD FAHIM

Los Angeles

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