In January, the federal government is scheduled to enact automatic budget cuts that will affect almost every category of national spending. Among the cuts will be funds for research, and that has Georgia universities nervous.
Sequestration is the name Washington has given to the automatic cuts.
And it would impact grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
The NIH alone could lose $2.5 billion in funds.
Raymond Dingledine is a dean at Emory University’s Medical School. He says the school receives the bulk of its grants from the NIH.
And he says sequestration would continue a trend of diminishing funds for critical medical research.
“Just last year a new federal policy reduced the amount of support Emory got by $3 million," he said. "And if sequestration goes through, I anticipate we would lose $30 million to $32 million in 2013.”
Professors at the University of Georgia are also worried about the impact. Officials at both universities are considering their options but Dingledine says in many cases, there will not be alternative sources of funds and some labs will have to shut down.
A spokesman for UGA said the university doesn't know what the exact fiscal impact of the cuts would be.
It’s unclear if the cuts will happen. It depends partly on who wins the presidential election next week.
But even if only some of the funds are cut, Dingledine says the move would halt cutting-edge research projects.
“We’re developing new drugs to prevent rejection of kidney transplants. We’re studying the link between inflammation and major depression," he said. "There are a variety of important health-related issues that are going to be compromised when and if sequestration comes into play.”