Rutgers research worthy of Rutgers' stature
Virtually everybody on social media has seen or heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this past summer. Its purpose was to raise awareness of and money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and over $100 million was raised by Sept. 6, according to the ALS Association’s website.
Medical research teams on average need about $1 billion over the course of 13 years to develop treatment to a disease, according to the National Institutes of Health’s website.
The NIH funds thousands of research institutions every year, including Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.
Last year, the NIH budget was cut due to sequestration, according to their website. The organization issued over 600 more grants in 2012 than they did one year later. Continued budgetary cuts are expected to eliminate funding for research projects as well as lower NIH employment.
Budget cuts impact both research and patient care, according to the site. Fewer research projects will be funded and existing grants will lose a percentage of their money. Fewer new patients will also be admitted to NIH facilities, although there are no changes made in existing patients’ care.
Celine Gelinas, the interim senior associate dean for research at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said the University has a variety of medical institutions that research various types of ailments, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders.
Funding can come from federal grants, state grants or private organizations, she said. Typically, an investigator will apply for a grant to pursue a specific treatment or illness. The University and the Rutgers Foundation also provide funding for research.
Grant money is issued by an organization to an investigator or team of investigators, she said, but not all of the money goes toward research.
“When you apply for grants, you apply for money with two parts: the direct cost and indirect cost,” she said.
Direct cost funding goes to the supplies researchers use and the personnel associated with the project, but the indirect cost supports the bureaucracy involved in the research.
The bureaucracy includes infrastructure costs, such as keeping the lights on, and human resources, such as having the purchasing department order equipment, she said.
RBHS receives most of its funding from non-federal sources, Gelinas said. The varied forms of research at the University have wide-ranging implications for multiple fields.
Matthew Emerson, a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences, said he believes the University spends evenly on both treatment and research.
“[The University] could improve the way they spend money in the medical school by hiring an outside company to evaluate the ins and outs of where the money goes and what it’s used for,” he said.
According to the University website, the Research and Development division in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology is first in the nation for federal funding for chemistry research.
Brenda Kracht, a junior in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, said RWJMS spends enough money on research and treatment, though a larger budget would not hurt.
“Robert Wood Johnson is one of the better hospitals to go to,” she said.