The Shutdown’s Squeeze On Science And Health

by NPR Staff October 01, 2013 6:41 PM

This image was posted by NASA to the agency's official Instagram account.This image was to the agency’s official Instagram account.

NASA/Getty Images

In addition to shutdowns of (including Alcatraz Island and Yosemite) and the supplemental nutrition program for , the mandatory furloughs are affecting a science and health agencies. Here’s a snapshot:


The “most painful consequence [of the shutdown for National Institutes of Health] is for the clinical center, the largest research hospital in the world” says NIH Director Francis Collins. Many of the hospital’s patients have cancer, a rare genetic disease or a serious infection that hasn’t been relieved elsewhere, Collins says. But Tuesday NIH had to close its doors to new patients. “How would you feel as a parent of a child with cancer,” Collins asks, “hoping that somehow NIH and its clinical center might provide some rescue from a very difficult situation, to hear that, frankly, you can’t come, because the government won’t be able to stay open.”

More specifically at the NIH clinical center:

  • No new studies will be started. Four had been slated to begin this week, but won’t if the shutdown continues.
  • No new patients will be enrolled in any of the 1,437 studies now underway. Roughly 500of those are studying new drugs and devices, and of those 255 are looking at cancer treatments for adults and children.
  • The hospital’s reduced staff will continue to care for existing patients, but new patients will not be admitted unless the NIH Clinical Center’s director deems it medically necessary.

Meanwhile, workers will show up to feed and care for animals in NIH labs, but basic research conducted by NIH scientists there will stop. Continue reading “The Shutdown’s Squeeze On Science And Health”