July 22, 2014
Professor speaks at congressional briefing on research budget cuts
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Shobha Ghosh, Ph.D., associate chair for research in the Department of Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, was one of five featured speakers on Capitol Hill last week discussing the need for medical research funding.
The congressional briefing focused on a new report from the Coalition for Health Funding titled “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Hurt America’s Health,” which illustrates how budget cuts undermine the ability to prevent and respond to a variety of health emergencies, from outbreaks of measles, Chikungunya and MERS, to school shootings at the hands of mentally ill gunmen or an epidemic of heroin abuse, according to the coalition’s press release.
Ghosh contributed to and was featured in this report. During the briefing in the Dirkson Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., Ghosh explained what effect these cuts have had on the research community, providing particular detail on the impact the cuts have had on her research.
Ghosh’s research interests include developing strategies for preventing heart disease, particularly atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and other forms of cardiovascular disease. In 2007, Ghosh and her research team identified the role of a key enzyme in reducing heart disease, helping to develop new therapies to reduce plaque in arteries.
According to the report, the National Institute of Health is awarding fewer grants supporting heart disease research projects to a dwindling number of applicants. “Established researchers are now forced to forego their lifetime of research which was at the verge of translational discoveries,” said Ghosh.
These mandatory cuts by Congress to NIH research funding have an impact on the fight against heart disease and stroke, of which prevention is a major component, according to the coalition’s report. Ghosh’s research funding has been cut by more than 5 percent.
“At this crucial point, a decrease in funding will slow us down, resulting in delayed development of a potentially novel therapeutic strategy for preventing heart disease. This and similar instances across the nation underscores the need to restore funding for heart disease,” Ghosh said.
Joining Ghosh on the panel of public health experts were Eve Anthony, chief operating officer at Athens Community Council on Aging; Glen Mays, Ph.D., director of the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research based at the University of Kentucky; Tim Starkey, chief executive officer and executive director of the Great Salt Plains Health Center; and Paulette Valentine, director of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Division at the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.
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