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March of Dimes, the 80-year-old nonprofit organization that has funded pioneering studies on premature birth, infant mortality, and birth defects, is abruptly scaling back its investment in research amid financial struggles—catching scientists by surprise.
Last week, the group told 37 of 42 recipients of its individual investigator awards that it is cutting short their grants. On average, the grants total $300,000 over 3 years. It plans to maintain reduced funding for just five such awards; all are focused on understanding and preventing premature birth. The group, based in White Plains, New York, is also trimming grants to its prematurity research centers, which are housed at academic institutions around the United States. And it will not award any new research grants this year, but will still give out its 2-year, $150,000 awards for young scientists in 2019.
Moves - Part - Effort - March - Dimes
The moves are part of an effort to slice about $3 million from the March of Dimes’s annual research budget of roughly $20 million, says Kelle Moley, the group’s chief scientific officer. The belt-tightening is the result of declining donations, particularly from the organization’s signature March for Babies. “The walks were our main funding source … and now there’s a million different kinds of walks,” she says. “They’re just not getting the donations that we used to get 10 or 20 years ago.” The group’s tax filings show that expenses exceeded revenue in each year from 2012 to 2016. It announced last year that it would be selling its national headquarters in White Plains.
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The cuts are also part of a strategic move to concentrate the organization’s energy around preterm birth, Moley adds. “It’s vital that we invest all of our resources into research program that have the greatest potential to impact the...
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