UH medical school feels impact of government shutdown

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The partial government shutdown is the second part of a double whammy for the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine.

These researchers are doing studies in the cardiovascular section of the school of medicine. The school was expecting a $5 million grant that was eliminated because of federal spending cuts.

Other grants are in the pipeline and the shutdown could impact those.

Twenty professors from around the nation were prepared to attend an important seminar next week.

“All of that’s been put on hold and a lot of that has been wasted. Airplane tickets and the hotel rooms have all gone to waste for that meeting,” said Dr. Ralph Shohet, UH John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Employees at the National Institutes of Health have been furloughed, which puts a damper on a meeting in Honolulu next week.

“Two hundred people are coming to town spending a lot of money in Honolulu and the NIH who was supposed to be here to be part of this meeting is not going to be able to be here. And so we’re not able to show off the fabulous science we’re doing here,” Dr. Shohet said.

Dr. Shohet emphasized there could be a ripple effect because of sequestration and the shutdown — vendors, drivers, and others depend on that federal funding.

“Those things eventually, because of the sequester and the shutdown persists, those things will come to an end,” Dr. Shohet said.

The future of individual scientists and researchers is also at risk. Grants they have applied for may never come through, or too late to make a difference in career choices.

This fiscal year, UH Manoa has received $224 million in federal grants compared to $175 million nine years ago.  When those grants are stalled or withdrawn, everybody loses.

“But they ripple out to the rest of the country because most of what the NIH does is support research in places like this,” Dr. Shohet said.

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