Columbia researchers could soon feel the pain of the government shutdown.
The shutdown, which began Monday night at midnight after Congress failed to approve a continuing resolution to keep the government funded, has temporarily defunded the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation—two of the biggest sources of grant money for Columbia researchers.
On the Morningside Heights campus, more than 100 NIH grants have been awarded to faculty members in a variety of disciplines, for a total of over $36 million in funds.
Uptown, at the Columbia University Medical Center, a total of over $300 million in funds has been awarded to support 732 grants.
In 2012, the NSF gave Columbia researchers around $95 million in grants, with the largest amount supporting the Earth Institute’s efforts to combat climate change.
The NSF won’t make any new grant payments during the shutdown, and researchers won’t be able to apply for any new funding.
While researchers can still spend grants previously received from the NIH, they can’t submit new grant proposals during the shutdown—despite the approaching Oct. 5 and 16 proposal deadlines.
G. Michael Purdy, Columbia’s executive vice president for research, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. Before the 2012 national elections, Purdy told Spectator that he was worried about the impact of partisan politics on research funding.
“The primary problem right now is the deadlock,” he said in November 2012. “And even if one [party] has a slight majority, the question is whether it’s a controlling majority—if they could actually get bills passed.”
Inaction in Congress has long been a concern of his, Purdy said.
“You talk to Congress on the Hill, you talk to the congressional staffers, and they say, ‘The one thing this Congress is good at is deadlock,’” he said.
Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story's headline stated that over 100 Columbia researchers were defunded. Columbia researchers who have their grants dispersed can continue to use them. Spectator regrets the error.