Sequestration, a series of federal budget cuts to defense and domestic spending, is continuing to negatively impact funding of Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute since taking effect last year, according to Executive Director Walter Curran.

Legislators unveiled a new spending bill on Jan. 13 that mostly leaves sequestration in place, only partially restoring some funds that were cut.

The bill increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to $29.9 billion for 2014 – a $1 billion increase from the previous year. However, when disseminated across various research institutions throughout the country, this increase falls short of what many health professionals had hoped for, according to a Jan. 15 Huffington Post article.

“Winship is committed to continuing its high priority research programs – programs which can lead to real progress against cancer,” Curran wrote in an email to the Wheel. “While some of these programs will be reduced this year, if sequestration continues, 2015 will be the most difficult year.”

Regardless of the funding cuts, Curran wrote that sequestration did not impact the faculty and staff at Winship.

“Winship has been fortunate to have generous private supporters whose support has ‘bridged’ some of our most promising investigators,” he wrote. “There have been no significant staff reductions at Winship nor is this anticipated due to sequestration.”

Before the deal was reached, Curran estimated that Winship would experience a $5 million loss in funding for cancer discovery if the sequester continued throughout March 2014, according to an article published by Atlanta’s NPR affiliate, WABE.

“All research centers, such as Winship with high levels of federal grant support, will be adversely affected this year and next if sequestration continues,” Curran wrote.

Curran noted that Winship “weathered the period of sequestration with difficulty.” Additionally, he wrote that if the planned sequestration cuts are not reduced or eliminated, these effects would escalate in 2014 and 2015.

“Some of our funding cuts have resulted in the downsizing of certain research terms, and this is a very difficult process,” Curran wrote.

The sequester totals approximately $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts and is part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was mandated by Congress after lawmakers were unable to agree on how to reduce the federal deficit. The funding cuts went into effect in 2013 and are scheduled to end in 2021, according to a Sept. 12, 2013 Washington Post article.

–By Harmeet Kaur