Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
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Pocan Introduces Next Generation Research Act

Sep 3, 2014
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, today at a meeting with faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin – Madison introduced the Next Generation Research Act which would improve opportunities for early career researchers. Unfortunately, current policies, including the budget sequester, are putting the brakes on research and innovation at a time when we need to step on the accelerator. Over the past ten years, the purchasing power of the NIH has decreased 22 percent while our global competitors have ramped up their own research capabilities. Last year, sequestration cut an additional $1.5 billion from the NIH budget.

The bill, introduced in the Senate by Senator Tammy Baldwin, creates the Next Generation of Research Initiative within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director and also directs a comprehensive study on the best possible ways our country can invest in the next generation of research.

“In order to foster long-term economic growth, we need to make a strong commitment to supporting research, innovation, science, and technology,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “This bill will ensure the next generation of researchers has the support they need to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. As our economy continues to recover, we must look down the road and invest in our young researchers, whose pioneering research will lead to improved health and quality of life for Americans and spurs innovation, U.S. economic growth, and job creation.”

Over the past 10 years, individual NIH research awards have dropped to record lows, less than 20 percent of grants submitted are funded. Even fewer grants are going to early career researchers, the young innovative researchers. Without these critical investments young Americans are not pursuing degrees in STEM fields, instead choosing a different career path or leaving the country for better research opportunities. Biomedical and scientific research is a major generator of economic activity, and NIH is its largest funding source.

“Federally funded research helps lead to lifesaving medical innovations and technological breakthroughs which can lead to a revolutionary new industry,” continued Rep. Pocan. “Congress has shirked its responsibility in recent years to be the driver of federally funded research. This bill helps early-career researchers and graduate students gain access to NIH grants to expand their research opportunities.”

What This Legislation Does:

  • The bill creates the Next Generation of Research Initiative within the NIH Office of the Director.
  • The office will promote and expand current policies and grant opportunities for young scientists.
  • The office will also create new policies aimed at increasing access to NIH grants for new researchers, expand workforce diversity efforts and improving mentorship between veteran and new researchers (only 1 in 6 first time researchers succeed in receiving a second NIH grant).
  • The bill also directs a comprehensive study on the best possible ways our country can establish the next generation of research.

Why We Need This Legislation:

  • In order to foster long-term economic growth, we need to make a strong commitment to supporting research, innovation, science, and technology. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone added more than $62 billion in new economic activity and the creation of 432,094 jobs across the country in 2011.
  • Over the past ten years, the purchasing power of the NIH has decreased 22 percent while our global competitors have ramped up their own research capabilities. Last year, Sequestration cut an additional $1.5 billion from the NIH budget.
  • These destructive policies are particularly devastating for our nation’s young researchers. NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, cautioned that “we are putting an entire generation of scientists at risk.” Currently, the average age of a first-time NIH grant recipient is 42 years old—up from 36 in 1980. Without action, talented young scientists may decide to chase another career, or leave the country to pursue their research.

Current Groups Supporting the Bill:

  • The Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN), University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Wisconsin Health Science Library Association, the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association.

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