Pocan Introduces Bill Aimed To Help Young Scientific Researchers

Next Generation Research Act Would Help Boost Funding For Research Projects

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc. Photo: WisPolitics.com (CC-BY).

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, has introduced a bill designed to improve opportunities for young biomedical and scientific researchers in their fields as federal funding shrinks.

The National Institutes of Health is the largest provider of research money to universities and labs across the country. Budget cuts to the NIH are especially affecting young researchers, some of whom are leaving the field.

Ty Harkness, a ph.D. student in biomedical engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said he has colleagues who have had to abandon their research when funding runs dry.

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“With the current situation, it’s getting less and less realistic for current graduate students to pursue their passion and careers,” said Harkness.

Pocan’s bill to help such young researchers is called the Next Generation Research Act and was sponsored in the Senate last year by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc. Pocan hopes to convince the same Republicans who pushed for across-the-board budget cuts last year in the sequester of 2013 that NIH funding is important.

“If we can make people like that realize that it’s not just about the bottom line of a budget, but what does that budget do and what does it mean for society, that’s when we can win on things like NIH,” said Pocan. “I think of all the areas, this is one that we have more potential bipartisan crossover support than anything.”

Among the provisions in Pocan’s bill are mentoring and grant-writing help for young researchers. Only 1 in 6 first time researchers who get an NIH grant snag a second one.