Report warns of deep cuts to medical research if budget sequester goes through

The U.S. medical research sector could see tens of thousands of jobs evaporate if Congress doesn't act to avert automatic budget cuts slated to take effect Jan. 1, the advocacy group United for Medical Research (UMR) said in a report released Wednesday.

Last year's debt-ceiling deal called for an automatic 7.8 percent across-the-board cut to non-defense spending if lawmakers can't find $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and revenue increases. Such a hit on the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would "jeopardize high-quality jobs in the life-sciences sector and result in a massive step backwards for biomedical research in the United States," UMR President Carrie Wolinetz said in a statement introducing the report.

"Projections suggest that total employment triggered by NIH extramural spending would fall by more than 33,000, to 398,390 jobs," the report says. "Additionally, the new economic activity generated by NIH investment would drop from $62.1 billion to $57.5 billion, a decrease of more than $4.5 billion."

The report was released just as Senate appropriators prepared to grill NIH Director Francis Collins about the administration's $30.7 billion budget request for the NIH in fiscal 2013.