Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Senior Manager
Telephone: 412-578-9193 or 412-624-3212
Senior Director
Telephone: 412-586-9764
Patient & Other Inquiries

Pitt’s Arthur S. Levine, M.D., and 17 Other Med School Deans Speak Out

Funding Cuts Jeopardize Research, Clinical Medicine

PITTSBURGH, May 27, 2015 – Cuts in federal support and unreliable funding streams are creating a hostile work environment for scientists, jeopardizing the future of research efforts and ultimately clinical medicine, according to leaders of the nation’s top academic medical centers in today’s online issue of Science Translational Medicine.
Led by Arthur S. Levine, M.D., the University of Pittsburgh senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine, medical school deans from 18 institutions reviewed the financial challenges that prevent high-risk, high-reward research, drive established investigators out of the U.S., and discourage trainees and early career researchers from pursuing their professional dreams.
“At any amount of public investment, the cost of the biomedical research enterprise is growing inexorably beyond what available resources can reasonably support,” they wrote. “Persistent constraints on federal funding for biomedical research, including that from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), threaten to undermine the biomedical research enterprise, and decreasing clinical revenue compounds this threat.”
Income from tuition fees, technology transfer, state grants and philanthropic gifts cannot make up for the loss of federal funds, Dr. Levine said. Furthermore, caps on federal reimbursement for administrative costs of research—which have risen significantly due to increased federal regulation—exacerbate the challenges. Academic institutions contribute on average an additional 53 cents for every dollar of sponsored research support received, typically with clinical revenue that is expected to decrease as the Affordable Care Act reduces health care costs.
“There is no question that academic institutions already have skin in the game to support the business of research, but we are doomed to be flayed without concomitant increases in federal funding,” Dr. Levine noted. “One of the critical components of the U.S. economy is a biomedical enterprise that fosters discovery and invention of new therapies and technologies. The federal-academic partnership must be reinvented so that we can continue to lead research initiatives, deliver top-notch health care, and support the next generations of scientists.”
One approach is a model in which the growth in appropriations to NIH and other research sponsors is predictable, accounts for inflation, and is projected over three to five years, allowing both federal and academic institutions to plan for the future rather than attempt to react to annual funding uncertainty, the writers said. Biomedical research efforts must equal what is needed to improve health care in accordance with the public’s needs and demands; funding reductions, they noted, will lead to a smaller biomedical enterprise and slow clinical advances.
“We cannot underestimate the need for a vibrant research community to add to our scientific knowledge and bring innovation to clinical medicine,” Dr. Levine said. “It is imperative to have a renewed commitment to provide the financial stability to achieve these goals.”
Co-authors include:
• Robert J. Alpern, M.D., dean and Ensign Professor, Yale University School of Medicine
• Nancy C. Andrews, M.D., Ph.D., dean and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Duke University School of Medicine
• Karen Antman, M.D., provost, Boston University Medical Campus, dean, School of Medicine
• Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for health affairs, and dean, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University
• Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning in the health sciences, University of Pittsburgh
• Pamela B. Davis, M.D., dean, School of Medicine, and senior vice president for medical affairs, Case Western Reserve University
• J. Gregory Fitz, M.D., executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, dean, UT Southwestern Medical School
• Robert N. Golden, M.D., dean, School of Medicine and Public Health, vice chancellor for medicine affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
• Lee Goldman, M.D., executive vice president and dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, chief executive, Columbia University Medical Center
• J. Larry Jameson, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president, University of Pennsylvania for the Health System, dean, Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
• Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., dean, School of Medicine, A. Lorris Betz Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, CEO, University of Utah Health Care
• Kenneth S. Polonsky, M.D., Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor, dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine, executive vice president of medical affairs, University of Chicago
• Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., dean, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
• E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, and dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine
• Paul B. Rothman, M.D., dean of the medical faculty, CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine
• Debra A. Schwinn, M.D., dean, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
• Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, and dean, Washington University School of Medicine
• Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA