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Nobel Laureates Warn Against Going over the Fiscal Cliff

December 18, 2012

Nobel Laureates Warn Against Going over the Fiscal Cliff (Download President's Letter)
Bethesda, Maryland – Nobel Laureates from across the country are warning Congressional leaders and President Obama about the danger the fiscal cliff poses to research and innovation.

Starting December 3, the Coalition for the Life Sciences has sent a letter a day from a Nobel Laureate in either Chemistry or Physiology and Medicine. Twenty-one Nobel Laureates are engaged in this campaign. In these letters, each Laureate emphasizes the importance of federally funded research and the dire consequences of funding cuts. Of particular concern, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will face an 8.2% across-the-board cut starting January 1, 2013, if Congress and the Administration refuse to agree on solutions to the fiscal cliff.

Coalition Board member H. Robert Horvitz, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He said, “This potentially very deep cut to the NIH as well as to all other federally-funded science would negatively impact job creation and seriously jeopardize the long-standing leadership position of the U.S. in research and innovation.”

Paul Berg, from Stanford University and the co-recipient of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, agreed. “Past support of the NIH by the United States Congress has enabled the American scientific enterprise to rise to world leadership in the physical and life sciences. It is also why Americans have dominated as recipients of the Nobel and other illustrious Prizes.”

All the Nobel Laureates are concerned that cuts to the NIH will stifle discoveries that improve health, save lives, and drive our economy. NIH supports scientists and their critical work in every state across the nation, which means that every state would feel the negative effects of going over the fiscal cliff. Laboratories would shut down, scientists would be laid off, and local businesses that support research would close. Progress on developing promising new cures would slow, if not stop outright.

Coalition Director Lynn Marquis said the campaign arose from a shared anxiety among Coalition members about the future of the nation’s leadership in scientific output and innovation. “We felt strongly that voices from the scientific community needed to be heard and the Nation’s Laureates provide a unique voice that adds gravitas to the debate in Washington.”

The Coalition for the Life Sciences is an alliance of six non-profit professional organizations working together to foster public policies that advance basic biological research and its applications in medicine and other fields. For further information, please call Lynn Marquis, the Director of the CLS, at (301) 347-9309 or visit