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Japan Increases Support for Science Research; US May Pull Back

By January 22, 2013

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After two decades of economic lethargy, the government of Japan approved a $116 billion economic stimulus package that included $11 billion for science and technology. Approximately $3 million of this funding is dedicated to upgrade research infrastructure and promote collaborations between university and industrial laboratories. Almost $360 million is also specifically targeted for medical research to develop new drugs and treatments--with two-thirds slated for stem cell and related regenerative technologies.

This initiative pushes Japan's public science support to its highest ever at $57 billion. In comparison, the US federal government spent just over $85 billion last year supporting scientific research and development. In contrast to Japan's pending investment increase in science, however, there is concern the US may pull back its own effort on this front.

Last week, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) voiced concern that the looming federal budget sequestration cuts, if not resolved, would result in a 6.4% budget cut to the national research center. As the nature of the sequester involves across-the-board cuts, virtually every other research program is facing a similar situation.

For more information on how research funding is spent by the NIH, you can browse their online reporting tool. I found the page with estimates of funding for various research and disease categories particularly interesting.

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