Stimulus money at work in labs now

Since signing into law in February, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’s ~10 billion dollar extra funding to the National Institutes of Health has resulted in funding 2,346 projects (or as supplements) so far. There have been several rounds of additional grant applications including the “Challenge” and the “Grant Opportunity” or GO grants, the funding of which will start in the fall. So, if you think you are seeing the leaves on the tree moving, maybe there is a breeze. Better proof for improvement, at least of the mood, of course would be the fact that your PI’s less stiff-looking face when you put in a request for purchasing reagents.

Buzz has it that right now is the hardest time for a postpoc to move on, even though it does not feel that great staying beyond a typical few years in the current lab either. Remember, job market recovery is a delayed action part of any economic recovery. So hold on tight and look ahead.

Companies in the research supply industry, large or small, are inevitably suffering along side with academic labs as well as the drug-aiming biotech industry and R&D centers of pharmaceuticals. Invitrogen (Life Technologies) let go of people in several rounds already. Specialty companies like Glen Research, leading supplier of oligo chemicals, are also shedding employees, it seems. Allele Biotech has not and is not planning to lay off team members, but we have not been able to replace people who recently left or support part-time employees’ level of work as we wanted to.

The ARRA stimulus money through NIH will be a main life line for many of us doing biomedical research in the next few months to a couple of years, depending on how Wall Street and the capital market shape up. The number of grants and total dollars will increase, however slowly it feels. No time to pop the cord yet but at least you can plan on doing that next experiment to get the paper published sooner rather than later, perhaps buying your genotyping kits and miniprep columns from us!

Don’t overlook the deep meaning of Independence Day. Enjoy the day and celebrate our freedom. Happy Independence Day.

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Friday, July 3rd, 2009 NIH Budget and You

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