U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Representative Mark Pocan Host Roundtable with Next Generation Researchers at UW-Madison

Baldwin and Pocan Highlight Bipartisan Next Generation Researchers Act

PHOTOS: Baldwin and Pocan Joined by UW-Madison Researchers

MADISON, WI – Today U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Representative Mark Pocan joined University of Wisconsin–Madison in hosting a roundtable with young and early-stage researchers at the Waisman Center.

Senator Baldwin and Representative Pocan heard directly from early-career researchers, who are facing the worst funding for research in 50 years. Senator Baldwin and Representative Pocan both introduced the bipartisan Next Generation Researchers Act to invest in the future of research, science, and innovation. This legislation, supported by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, would create the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative” within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director to coordinate all current and new NIH policies aimed at promoting opportunities for new researchers and earlier research independence. In addition, the legislation directs the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a comprehensive study and report on fostering the next generation of researchers. More information on the legislation is available here.

"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 can’t accomplish this without supporting and investing in the next generation of researchers here at the University of Wisconsin and across the country. This bipartisan legislation demonstrates a commitment to our future scientists and builds off Wisconsin’s proud tradition of being a leader in this industry.”

“Investing in research, innovation, science, and technology today is vital to our long-term economic growth,” said Representative Pocan. “By providing our young scientists and researchers with more funding opportunities we will provide them with the support necessary to tackling the challenges of tomorrow. The pioneering efforts of these new researchers, in areas such as biochemistry and neuroscience, will lead to improved health and quality of life for Americans and spurs innovation, U.S. economic growth, and job creation.”

“This is a bill of great importance to the United States and its vitality and position in the world,” said Richard Moss, Associate Dean for Research in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. “The purpose of the act is to increase opportunities for early-career investigators.”

“We are extremely grateful to Senator Baldwin and Representative Pocan for introducing this legislation, which will invest in the next generation of researchers and the remarkable discoveries to come,” said Marsha Mailick, UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. “Our young researchers face unprecedented challenges in competing for federal funding. This legislation will enable UW-Madison and other leading research institutions to maintain a strong and diverse cadre of researchers now and into the future.” 

NIH-supported research has unlocked the potential of stem cells, expanded our molecular understanding of cancers, and mapped the human genome. Wisconsin has long been a leader in pioneering remarkable breakthroughs in science that have improved health, saved lives and created jobs. Learn more about the benefits of NIH funding in the state of Wisconsin here.

However, current policies are putting the brakes on research and innovation, jeopardizing our country’s leadership. Since 2003, the NIH budget has failed to keep up with inflation, decreasing the purchasing power of the NIH by over 22 percent while our global competitors accelerate their research capabilities. Federal budget cuts enacted in sequestration have slashed $1.5 billion from the NIH budget.

This trend is particularly devastating for our nation’s new and young researchers and has contributed to the stagnation of our biomedical workforce. The average age of a first-time NIH grant recipient is 42 years old— up from 36 in 1980. Without action, talented young scientists may decide to do something else, or leave the country to pursue their research. Senator Baldwin and Representative Pocan believe future researchers deserve to know that our country stands with them and they are committed to hearing from emerging Wisconsin scientists on how to best improve opportunities for them at the NIH.

PHOTOS with captions are available for download here