This Has Got to Be the Strangest Impact of the Sequester

National Journal
Brian Resnick
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Brian Resnick
Aug. 19, 2013, 11:34 a.m.

The se­quester has now killed bun­nies. Yes, furry, in­no­cent, blind, lab-test bun­nies have been put to sleep be­cause of a $1.7 bil­lion cut in the budget for the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health. A re­search oph­thal­mo­lo­gist writ­ing to the Huff­ing­ton Post in re­sponse to a story about sci­ence cuts says Con­gress is the reas­on why he killed the bun­nies he pet­ted, played with, and ex­per­i­mented on. (Via Grist)

I have riffed one postdoc­tor­al fel­low and eu­th­an­ized many beau­ti­ful, rare, and ex­pens­ive trans­gen­ic rab­bits that were new, ex­cit­ing mod­els for test­ing new ther­apies for hu­man ret­in­al de­gen­er­a­tions. We pet­ted them, played with them, fed them treats. Now they are dead. I blame Con­gress dir­ectly for that.

The bun­nies are in­deed a sad loss. But per­haps more il­lus­trat­ive is how the re­search­er de­scribes how the fund­ing cuts forced him to end his pro­ject early, thus wast­ing a lot of money that had already been spent.

Moreover the se­quester’s cost is tre­mend­ously un­der­stated as no one is count­ing the des­troyed in­vest­ments. I’ve spent over $25,000 de­vel­op­ing a colony of an­im­als who have a pro­gress­ive age-de­pend­ent blind­ness. Be­cause of the se­quester we’ve killed them be­fore we could fin­ish the treat­ment study. We saved about $4,000 from this year’s budget. We thus wasted 5x more money than the se­quester saved. When and if Con­gress ever does any­thing again, it will be years be­fore we get our new blind­ness-treat­ment study back on line. If it doesn’t get bet­ter soon, I’ll re­tire early and then 15 people will be un­em­ployed.

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