Research scientists brace for layoffs as stimulus cash dries up

The stimulus bill that pumped more than $8 billion into biomedical research projects in the U.S. is set to end at the end of the month. And the surge of research work that it helped spawn is likely to come to a quick stop, triggering stinging job losses as research scientists jockey for a piece of a much smaller pie.

As an example, Bloomberg points to the $137 million in stimulus funds obtained by the Yale School of Medicine--money that spurred Yale to create 335 new jobs. "Without the money from the Recovery Act," Yale's Robert Alpern tells the business news service, "it's very possible we'll see a falloff in research. Common sense will tell you that there will have to be layoffs."

That extra stimulus money arrived after years of bitter complaints that the federal government had shortchanged biomedical research during much of the Bush administration. New money from the Recovery Act offered a leg up for younger scientists whose work would likely have gone begging without the financial boost. Those are the same scientists who are likely to get hit the hardest as the NIH grapples with a possible 15 percent cut in their contract budget.

The ripple effect of the budget cut will also be felt at the companies which sell new technology to researchers. Illumina, for example, counted on a $100 million surge in revenue as the added NIH money coursed through the biomedical research community. And biotech hubs are likely to feel the pinch as well, with fewer research advances that pave the way to new products.

- read the Bloomberg article