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Medical research in Louisiana will be pared back under federal budget cuts

The head of a nonprofit advocacy group that promotes health research said Louisiana stands to lose millions of dollars in medical research funding due to the across-the-board federal spending cuts known as the sequester. Mary Woolley, president of the Alexandria, Va.-based Research!America, said the National Institutes of Health distributes billions of dollars to universities and research institutions – and the grants are getting scarcer and more competitive.

"In Louisiana, for example, the 5 percent sequestration cut will amount to $18 million approximately in funding for medical research. If we added another almost 20 percent, you can see that we are cutting into lots and lots of people’s lives," Woolley said.

Private philanthropy – for all the good it does – will never be able to match the federal dollars that flow into medical research, according to Woolley. She said private contributions amount to about 2 to 3 percent of the whole funding picture for medical research.

“Even if they went up dramatically, they’re not going to be able to carry the weight of what it takes to have a world-class research enterprise," Woolley said.

Federal appropriations in the works threaten to could cut an additional almost 20 percent from federal medical research funding in October.