Funding for Cancer Research takes a hit because of COVID-19


Last year, as the coronavirus pandemic heaped challenges on the global medical community, labs shut down, clinical trials were put on indefinite hold and various kinds of funds and grants were frozen. Now experts are worried that the long-term effects of this health crisis could impact the progress of cancer research in the United States.

This negative impact is set to affect cancer research at an institutional and federal level which may result in work stoppages, layoffs, and an overall loss of research capacity. Several agencies have been extending deadlines on grant applications and allowing investigators and directors to use grants to pay salaries and stipends or to cover any unanticipated costs.

In the fiscal year 2020, federal funding for cancer research was bulletproof and bolstered by the $2.6 billion increase to the NIH budget. However, experts are uncertain about how the landscape of federal funding in cancer research will look in the future. They believe that long-term deficit spending will be a major point of concern since it hinges on how Congress will respond.

Universities that institutionalize cancer research will likely continue to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Many universities anticipate a decline in income derived from their endowments. Meanwhile, hospitals have been assuming pandemic-related costs and deferring elective procedures that generate income. Last year saw higher education institutes like Stanford and Rutgers announce hiring freezes while hospitals like the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN cut salaries and furloughed workers.

Historically and globally, cancer research is only as strong as its institutional support. However, stakeholders have also relied on philanthropic support. This area too has been undergoing some changes since last year. There is going to be a steeper decline in cancer fundraising events as individuals and foundations focus on a variety of issues such as the health of the market and their physical health. However, these challenges don’t faze the on-ground cancer researchers and medical staff who are determined to weather the storm and care for patients as they strengthen their research capabilities.



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