Tech-fueled NIH projects put on hold due to shutdown, including cancer trials

Cancer patients hoping to undergo clinical trials of new medical technologies at the government-run National Institutes of Health are being told their research is on hold due to the government shutdown.

At the NIH, Director Francis Collins said about 200 patients who otherwise would be admitted to the NIH Clinical Center for clinical trials each week will be turned away. This includes about 30 children, most of them cancer patients, he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

NIH spokesman John Burklow told CNN that six new studies would have started this week that the agency must defer. Patients who are already in studies are still being treated and participating in trials, and patients who desperately need treatment will be seen by physicians or nurses at the NIH clinical center. A total of about 14,700 people are on furlough from NIH--75 percent of its workforce.

President Obama's BRAIN initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) is also on hold. It just received approval for high-priority technology-fueled research projects from NIH. The initiative was announced in April by President Obama, who called for a total of $110 million in the 2014 fiscal year budget to support it. NIH is slated provide $40 million of the total.

Three government organizations--the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency--will provide approximately $100 million in funding for the initiative beginning in FY 2014. 

To learn more:
- read the CNN article
- read the WSJ article

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