July 23rd, 2013

Funding for Landmark Framingham Heart Study Slashed by $4 Million

One of the most important studies in the history of medicine will be sharply curtailed as a result of the federal budget cuts.

The landmark Framingham Heart Study (FHS) has been told by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) that it will lose  $4 million of its funding. The cut represents 40% of its NHLBI funding and is a direct consequence of the sequester, the automatic cuts in the federal budget.

The FHS employs about 90 people and receives some funding from other sources, including other divisions of the National Institutes of Health. According to a statement posted by the study on its website, the cuts will lead to the loss of 19 clinical and administrative jobs as well as “reductions in clinic exams and lab operations.” In addition, the FHS said:

Research will continue, but will be affected by the planned elimination of the examinations, which also are used in ancillary studies. The FHS will continue to remain in contact with its participants regarding future exam cycles.

We are working with the NHLBI leadership and with other potential funding sources to help sponsor the research, fill the funding gap and thus save these jobs and cover the costs of the previously planned clinical examinations and laboratory studies.

The FHS is administered by the Boston University Medical School. Future funding of the study is also threatened.

The FHS started in 1948 and has continued to study the original study participants and their descendants. The study — which coined the term “risk factor” — helped identify and understand the contribution to cardiovascular disease of cholesterol and other lipids, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and many other factors.

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