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Senator Baldwin Announces New Legislation to Strengthen America’s Commitment to the Next Generation of Research, Science and Innovation

Next Generation Research Act Focuses on Building Opportunities for Young Researchers

Washington D.C. – At events in Milwaukee and Madison today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin announced new legislation she authored that will strengthen America’s commitment to the next generation of research, science, and innovation.

"In order for America to out-innovate the rest of the world and create an economy built to last, we must protect and strengthen our investments in research, science, and innovation," said Senator Baldwin. “We also need to continue to support and invest in the next generation of researchers.”

Senator Baldwin announced her new legislation, The Next Generation Research Act, which builds off of Wisconsin’s proud tradition of being a leader in research, science and innovation, at visits to the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) in Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research in Madison.

While groundbreaking research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone adds more than $800 million to Wisconsin’s economy every year, budget cuts and sequestration have threatened investments in America’s competitive edge in research, science and innovation.

Over the past 10 years, the purchasing power of the NIH has decreased 22 percent while America’s global competitors have ramped up their own research capabilities.  And this year, sequestration cuts will slash $1.5 billion from the NIH budget at a time when the average age of a first-time NIH grant recipient is 42 years old—up from 36 in 1980.  Dr. Francis Collins, Director of NIH, has cautioned that “we are putting an entire generation of scientists at risk.”

The Next Generation Research Act will create a new initiative within the NIH to improve opportunities for our next generation of researchers. The legislation will also promote current and new policies aimed at improving opportunities for young scientists and conduct a comprehensive study on the best possible ways our country can establish the next generation of research.

Senator Baldwin’s Next Generation Research Act

Creates the Next Generation of Research Initiative

  • The bill authorizes the creation of the Next Generation of Research Initiative within the NIH Office of the Director.
  • The Initiative will be charged with directing all current and new NIH policies aimed at promoting new researchers.
  • To ensure that the Initiative complements existing research projects within the NIH, the bill authorizes such funding as is necessary to carry out the program’s mission.

 Promotes New Opportunities for Young Researchers and Scientists

  • Current NIH policies that have helped early-stage investigators (ESI) include the Pathway to Independence Award, which provides both mentorship and independent research support to new investigators with a postdoctoral degree; the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, which supports exceptionally creative new investigators who propose highly innovative projects that have the potential for unusually high impact; and ESI grant review procedures, which ensure that new investigators have a fair shot to succeed. 
  • New policies will include implementing the recommendations provided by the NIH Office of Extramural Research, improving mentorship between veteran and new researchers, expanding workforce diversity efforts, and exploring ways to improve success in applying for a new researcher’s second grant (only one in six first-time investigators succeed in receiving a second NIH grant).

 Studies Best Ways to Develop the Next Generation of Research

  • To ensure a comprehensive approach, the bill will direct the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to produce a report to evaluate barriers for entry into biomedical research for early-stage scientists and new investigators. 
  • The study will evaluate legislative, administrative, educational and cultural barriers to providing for a strong, diverse next generation of researchers. 
  • NAS shall issue recommendations to Congress and the NIH to incentivize, improve entry into, and sustain careers in biomedical research for new and young investigators – including agency policies and policies for academic institutions.
  • The study will also include an evaluation on the impact of sequestration and budget constraints on the next generation of researchers.
  • The study will be conducted in conjunction with existing NAS reporting, pursuant to Section 489 of the Public Health Service Act

Here's what Wisconsin leaders are saying about the importance of Senator Baldwin’s Next Generation Research Act: 

“Indiscriminate cutting of research support will have long-term effects on health care discovery; it impacts medical progress across all disciplines of research, investigating the full spectrum of diseases and conditions. It directly affects our ability to train the next generation of medical researchers,” - Dr. John R. Raymond, Sr., President and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin 

“Groundbreaking discoveries made at the University of Wisconsin have contributed to our state’s prominence as a leader in biomedical research. Over the years, the School of Medicine and Public Health has graduated outstanding young investigators and recruited world-class researchers, who have made enormous contributions to the advancement of health.  However, with grant funding rates at the lowest level in the history of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), potential new medical scientists fear that they would face an uncertain future.  As a result, we are in danger of losing the next generation of biomedical researchers. Senator Baldwin’s legislation addresses many of the serious problems that deter young scientists from pursuing careers in biomedical research and commits essential resources for supporting a strong and vibrant pipeline of future scientists.” - Robert Golden, M.D., Dean at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs 

“Years of efforts by physicians, scientists, and other investigators have provided us the high quality of medical care we enjoy today. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health are at the forefront of this revolution in medical knowledge. However, diminishing federal investment is turning new graduates away from careers in medical science research. Young scientists are very much aware of the difficulties faced by all researchers and are increasingly pessimistic regarding their own opportunities. Biomedical research must remain a viable career for graduates. Senator Baldwin’s proposal is a much-needed response to what has become a very serious concern and commits resources necessary to the success of future researchers.” - Richard Moss, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research, Biotechnology and Graduate Studies at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health 

“The ‘eureka!’ moment in science does not exist in a vacuum; it is not a light bulb. Eureka happens with the convergence of educated scientists with bright minds, thoughtful ideas, and long hours spent testing hypotheses to elicit the answer.  Those moments require financial support—but may save millions of lives.” - Joseph E. Kerschner, M.D., Dean of the Medical School, Medical College of Wisconsin 

“Science requires not only a bright mind and passion, but dedication; most researchers hit their prime after 20 years in the field.  Our young scientists are watching their mentors struggle, and it gives them pause. Reducing support for science could extinguish the spark in those fertile minds—the spark that leads to discovery.” - David Gutterman, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Research, Medical College of Wisconsin

For background information on Senator Baldwin’s Next Generation Research Actclick here to download the background information.