Cuts May Mean Long-Awaited Efficiencies at NIH

Cuts May Force Eagerly Awaited Efficiencies on NIH 1

Chris Gunn, NIH

Graduate students and postdocs study cell biology in a laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md. Some see such labs as models of efficiency; others find them a less-accountable way to allocate scarce federal dollars.

So far, the National Institutes of Health is hunkering down. Staggered by a looming 5-percent cut after years of flat budgets, higher education's top provider of basic research money insists there's no place it can reasonably scale back.

"It's not the case that there's fat left in the program," declared NIH Director Francis S. Collins, just before the sequestration budget cuts took effect this month.

Provided with $31-billion a year by taxpayers, the NIH runs about as lean an