Government shutdown effects on biomedical research outlined

The White House's Office of Management and Budget released a new report that sheds light on how the 16-day federal government shutdown in October impacted scientific research.

When Congress failed to reach a consensus on the nation's budget, the U.S. federal government halted operations deemed nonessential beginning on Oct. 1. The 27-page report, released Nov. 7, says that nearly three-quarters of NIH employees were furloughed during the shutdown as well as four out of five Nobel Prize-winning researchers currently employed by the federal government. In addition, 98% of National Science Foundation (NSF) employees and two-thirds of workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were furloughed.

While the NIH Clinical Center, a research hospital located in Bethesda, MD, stayed open for patients already enrolled in studies, enrollment of new patients--with the exception of patients with life-threatening or urgent medical needs--was put on hold during the shutdown. The NIH admitted 25 new patients during the shutdown, but 7 clinical programs that were scheduled to start during that time were put on hold.

The shutdown also delayed the disbursement of grants or grant continuations, delaying new basic science research. The NIH and NSF did not review applications or award any grants during the government shutdown. In a typical two-week period, the NSF issues 765 grants and continuations, according to the report.

The CDC was also unable to carry out its disease-tracking functions, including surveillance of molecular epidemiological data to identify outbreaks of hepatitis and tuberculosis.

- here's the report (PDF)