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From Therapy Dogs To New Patients, Federal Shutdown Hits NIH

NPR | Oct. 4, 2013 10 a.m.

Contributed By:

Nell Greenfieldboyce

The Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

The Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health is the biggest source of funding for medical research in the world.

An the partial federal government shutdown has put it in a precarious position.

Universities and hospitals across the country are grappling with what the NIH shutdown will mean for them.

The NIH also has its own hospital at its main campus in Maryland called the NIH Clinical Center and is dedicated solely to medical research.

Patients often go there to receive experimental treatments.

The shutdown has affected the NIH hospital in ways both large and small.

For example, patients were told therapy dogs will no longer be able to come to visit them.

And, the NIH has said with rare exceptions, it will not enroll new patients in ongoing studies or clinical trials at the center.

“In a normal week, about 200 new people would be enrolled in clinical trials that are testing new treatments,” says Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH shutdown is also affecting other medical centers because most of the NIH budget goes out as grants to support researchers and clinicians across the nation. That entire grants program is now closed.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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