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Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin

Pocan Introduces Next Generation Researchers Act

Sep 9, 2015
Press Release
Bill Helps Provide Better Funding Opportunities for Young Scientists

Washington, D.C - U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) today introduced the Next Generation Researchers Act which aims to promote and provide opportunities for new researchers and earlier research independence. Groundbreaking research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone added more than $57.8 billion in new economic activity and the creation of over 400,000 jobs across the country in 2012. Unfortunately, current policies are putting the brakes on research and innovation at a time when we need to step on the accelerator.

The Next Generation Researchers Act, introduced in the Senate by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME), 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.

“Investing in research, innovation, science, and technology today is vital to our long-term economic growth,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “By providing our young scientists and researchers with more funding opportunities we will provide them with the support necessary to tackling the challenges of tomorrow. The pioneering efforts of these new researchers, in areas such as biochemistry and neuroscience, will lead to improved health and quality of life for Americans and spurs innovation, U.S. economic growth, and job creation.”

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. Sequestration cut an additional $1.5 billion from the NIH budget. These destructive policies are particularly devastating for our nation’s young researchers like UW-Madison graduate students Tyler and Andrew.

“One of the biggest challenges my colleagues and I face as we transition from PhD students to postdoctoral researchers is the lack of career and funding opportunities for young researchers,” said Tyler Stanage, graduate student Cox Lab Biochemistry Department at UW-Madison. “This has dissuaded the majority of my colleagues from pursuing careers in academic research - an incredible loss to the potential economic, medical, and scholarly advances they may have brought with their work.”

“I frequently hear about the difficulties scientists face in obtaining grants for research, and it can be discouraging,” said Andrew Merluzzi, graduate student in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program at UW-Madison. “The uncertainty in funding makes a career in basic research much less enticing, which is an unfortunate fact. I think we need mechanisms by which young researchers can obtain the funds they need to get innovative ideas off the ground. I hope that legislation like the Next Generation Researchers Act can help do that.”

The Next Generation Researchers Act currently has 9 original cosponsors and is supported by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Medical College of Wisconsin, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), FASEB, Research!America, American Society of Transplantation (AST) American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), American Heart Association, and AcademyHealth.