Sequestration Affects VTCRI Medical Research and Local Economy - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Sequestration Affects VTCRI Medical Research and Local Economy

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The sequestration is taking a big chunk out of medical research funding nationally and locally.

Two local researchers, Dr. Stephen LaConte and Dr. Pearl Chiu, are already feeling the affects of the sequestration's impact on their own research.

In the last two weeks, their research to help battle substance abuse has lost $77,000.

"It affects careers, our own careers, in terms of the amount of work we can accomplish," LaConte says.

"It makes us have to make tough decisions on whether to take on students or new trainees," Chiu says.

So far, there's been $620,000 in cuts to eight research programs at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. They will lose a total of $1.6 million for 26 programs in the next year. If nothing changes, the institute will have a total of $10 million cut in the next five years.

The cuts are specifically impacting research on childhood disease, brain disorders, and cancer.

"The money we save now by making these very dramatic cuts are costing us more later because people with these health problems are costing society, whether it's through health insurance, loss of work, etc.," VTCRI Executive Director Dr. Michael Friedlander says.

Friedlander says medical research has already seen significant cuts over the last decade. Now, with up to 10 percent of total available money for research on a national level being cut, he says this will have a devastating impact on work being done here locally.

"It will have a direct impact on the local economy here in Roanoke because as those decisions are made either workers will have to be laid off and this has a multiplier affect as it percolates in the area," Friedlander says.

Friedlander says he hopes our community can get behind the research institute by making calls to legislators and putting money back in what he says are some of the places we need it most.