Scientists: U.S. no longer the global leader in research

Sept. 4, 2013 at 12:59 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- An overwhelming majority of U.S. scientists in all fields say the country is no longer the global leader in scientific research, a non-profit group says.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's report on government-funded scientific research, titled "Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity," detailed the findings of a survey of more than 3,700 frontline scientists from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

The survey, conducted in June and July by 16 scientific societies representing a variety of scientific disciplines, asked questions regarding cuts to non-defense discretionary spending by Congress since 2010.

Benjamin Corb, public affairs director for ASBMB, said these cuts in research funding reached a historic low in March with sequestration.

"For the first time, we are able to definitively tell the story of the federally funded scientist," Corb said in a statement. "The data showed that deep cuts to federal investments in research are tearing at the fabric of the nation's scientific enterprise and have a minimal impact on overcoming our national debt and deficit problems."

The report also found:

-- Private investment in academic research has been feeble. Only 2 percent of survey respondents have been able to find private funds to make up for those lost from federal grants.

-- More than two-thirds of survey respondents said they did not have the funds to expand their research operations, postponing important scientific advances in all fields.

-- Nearly half of survey respondents have laid off researchers and 55 percent have a colleague who has lost his/her job.

However, nearly 95 percent of respondents indicated they wanted to continue their careers as scientists.

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