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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) officially rolled out the new AAAS.org. This change also includes the R&D Budget and Policy Program site, which provides timely, comprehensive, and independent analyses of federal research & development funding trends since 1976, at www.aaas.org/program/rd-budget-and-policy-program. The AAAS encourages people to browse the new site and provide feedback using the question mark icon at the top right corner of each page. The site will be a work in progress for the time being, but the hope is that the new design and layout will lead to an improved user experience. The AAAS notes that, “as anyone who has experienced a large-scale website overhaul can attest, there are sure to be bugs or errors we missed. If anything appears amiss, or you are having a hard time finding the information you need, please let us know.” The hope is that the changes will provide opportunities for new and diverse content in the future, including expanded analyses and coverage of U.S. appropriations in 2014 and beyond.
On March 1, 2013, as required by statute, President Obama signed an order initiating sequestration. The sequestration required National Institutes of Health (NIH) to cut 5 percent or $1.55 billion of its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget, applied evenly across all programs, projects, and activities, which are primarily NIH institutes and centers. This means every area of medical research will be affected. The NIH FY2013 operating plans can be found at officeofbudget.od.nih.gov/pdfs/FY13/FY%202013%20Full-Year%20CR%20Operating%20Plan%20Posting.pdf. The budget cut meant approximately 640 fewer competitive research project grants were issued, approximately 750 fewer new patients admitted to the NIH Clinical Center, and no increase in stipends for National Research Service Award. For more information, see www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2013/nih-03.htm.
In 2011, U.S. mortality rates reached record lows for both women and men; as a result, life expectancy at birth reached record highs: 81 years for women and 76 years for men. Unfortunately, these increases in life expectancy mask very wide disparities among population groups. For example, remaining life expectancy at age 25—an important overall indicator of adult population health—is about a decade shorter for people who do not have a high school degree compared with those who have completed college. Educational attainment appears to be very important in differentiating U.S. adults’ prospects for long life. A recent study demonstrated that in the span of 14 years (1992–2006), life expectancy for U.S. women declined in 42 percent of U.S. counties. One of the most important variables associated with that decline was the number of people in the county who had a college education. These differences represent critical health and social issues with important implications for policymakers. For more information, see the Population Reference Bureau, www.prb.org/Publications/Reports/2013/us-educational-attainment-mortality.aspx, or the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health, connector.obssr.od.nih.gov/education-and-life-expectancy/.