UNSOM Research In Jeopardy With Shutdown

RENO, NV - About 75 people who work in the Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine could be sent home if this government shutdown continues for several weeks.

Their research depends a lot on federal grants that sometimes are paid on a quarterly basis.

With no pay, the research stops, along with paychecks, as well as potential advancement in medicine.

“There is absolutely nothing I can think of that is in any way good about this,” says Dr. Iain Buxton, Chairman of the Pharmacology Department with the Unversity of Nevada School Of Medicine.

We first met Dr. Buxton back in 2006 as he was working on an 8-year research project looking into the causes of premature labor.

Nearly 8 years later he says the research has led to a greater understanding of uterine contractions and a genetic variant that could put mothers at risk for delivering premature babies.

“The cells that we use are from mothers in Reno who donate their tissues when they are having a C-section. It's not like we can go back in and say can I have some now that the shutdown is over? They won't to give it to us and they wouldn't be pregnant any more so it would do us no good,” says Dr. Buxton.

The specimens cannot be replaced, and in some projects the work may have to start all over again.

Some laboratory chemicals, Dr. Buxton says, which are more valuable than gold, have a shelf life; they too may need to be thrown out and replaced.

Starting back up from a government shutdown, he says, is more costly than you might think.

And that doesn't begin to cover the students working on higher degrees, who owe student loans, and who have bright futures ahead of them.

“The young people that rely on us for their livelihood and development in their careers, will that be affected? And what if it is, what will the cost of that be in our society?” asks Dr. Buxton.

Dr. Buxton says two large grants for the medical school are in jeopardy with the shutdown.

Grants that have already been submitted are in limbo at this time because there's no one to examine and approve them.