Taking the 'fun' out of Funding?
One of the most famous and certainly longest-running trials of CVD has seen its funding slashed by 40%, and while the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) is still open and ongoing, there will be layoffs later this year and clinical examinations and laboratory activities will be eliminated. The reason for the cutbacks is the automatic funding cuts that went into place as a result of the US government sequestration. In a typical year, the FHS receives approximately $9 million per year from the government through its contract with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). However, the funding will be reduced by $4 million in the coming years, a 40% reduction. In addition, 19 administrative and clinical posts are expected to be chopped.
"The scale-back of our scientific effort is expected to slow the pace of discoveries that have the potential to advance human health," Dr Daniel Levy (Boston University School of Medicine, MA), the director of the FHS at the NHLBI, told heartwire . Research affected by the cuts includes the Systems Approach to Biomarker Research in Cardiovascular Disease (SABRe Initiative).
"One of our highly promising research programs, the SABRe CVD Initiative , will face a 40% reduction in its budget for this year," Levy said in an emailed comment. "This will result in a considerable scale-back of our research scope and our ability to identify new risk factors for cardiovascular disease. While we've collected a lot of information already, there are next-level studies to be completed. We are hopeful that significant scientific efforts will continue as a consequence of investigator-initiated grants. We know that there is a lot more science to be done in this field and expect Framingham will continue to play a crucial role as the field moves forward."
The FHS Offspring and Omni Group 1 exams scheduled later this year are still going and all ancillary studies are continuing as planned. In additional, medical-history updates are still being collected on the regular schedule. Levy said the current cycle of FHS examinations will finish up this fall, and no additional examinations of the study participants had been planned during the remaining contract period.
However, the next NHLBI contract with the FHS, which in the past has been seven years, will be renewed for only two to three years. The contract will be renewed April 2015, leaving FHS leadership looking for additional funding. Most important, the next contract funding will include no money for examinations, with investigators instead relying on mail and telephone interviews.
"The Framingham Heart Study is an iconic research program that has played a key role in the identification of many of the known risk factors for cardiovascular disease," said Levy. "We are conducting a great deal of cutting-edge science today with the hope that this research will identify additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease."