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Congressman Scott Peters fights federal cuts to research funding

Geoff Wahl (center) and Bianca Kennedy (right) join Congressman Scott Peters at the press conference to raise awareness about sequestration.

Congressman Scott Peters, an ardent supporter of federal funding for scientific research, held a press conference at Salk on February 20, calling on lawmakers to avoid sequestration.

Salk scientist Geoffrey Wahl, a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory, and Bianca Kennedy, a patient advocate and breast cancer survivor, joined the congressman to express their concern over sequestration as well—a potential cut of $2.5 billion to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) budget.

Wahl said that any funding cuts would cripple the scientific landscape and have an adverse impact on cancer research. "Instead of calling it sequestration, call it amputation," he said. "You get to choose which of your limbs you want to lose because that's what it's going to be."

NIH funds one third of all biomedical research conducted in the U.S. and supports 432,000 jobs across the country. Locally, sequestration could cost San Diego's science and technology sector about 4,200 jobs and $290 million in funding.

According to Wahl, in the past, 25 percent of all grant proposals were funded. "That would fund all the research you could possibly need to do," he noted. "In recent years, that has been reduced to 7 percent and will suffer even further as a result of the sequestration."