CORVALLIS, Ore. — The government shutdown is affecting research funding on campuses across the country, including Vitamin E studies at Oregon State University.
Maret Traber, recently named 2013 DSM Nutritional Science Award winner, works at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and is worried if she cannot submit her federal grant application, her team will not be able to continue the research it set out to do.
Traber, a Helen P. Rumbel Professor for Micronutrient Research in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, has been studying the benefits of Vitamin E for 30 years.
“Research shows that people who eat enough Vitamin E actually have bigger brains,” she said. “It helps prevent the shrinking of the brain with age.”
She says if folks aren’t getting enough Vitamin E, there are consequences.
“If you have too much exposure to things like cigarette smoke, or O-Zone, or air pollution, you’re not well protected.”
But as of Monday evening, Traber’s research came to a halt.
“My research; my studies looking at how Vitamin E and K interact together, are not going to get funded until I can submit my grant proposal.”
Traber is applying for a federal National Institutes of Health Grant. The deadline, Oct. 5, falls on a Saturday so it has been pushed to Monday. But with the government shutdown, all applications have been put on hold, prolonging the time research money would be available.
“I have enough money to fund the staff I have in my lab right now, but if we are delayed, or worse yet, my proposal isn’t up to snuff and I have to make revisions and try again…..” Traber said, then sighed.
Traber’s research looks at the benefits of Vitamin E and the relationship it has with other vitamins. She is currently working on a novel form of Vitamin E given to women to assess the bioavailability. But she says before anyone is able to try the vitamin, the US Food and Drug Administration must approve it. Traber says she is in the process of communicating with the FDA to answer its questions, but with the government shutdown, the project has been paused.
“I heard a physician scientist recently say that the most important part about research is that you make discoveries that help people you don’t even know,” she said. “Millions of people will benefit if my research is successful and proves: What do you need to know about Vitamin E? Are you getting enough? You could be healthier. If only.”
Traber is asking the community to help.
“If you know a congressman, or if you know anybody in Washington, send your letters now,” she said. “They are stopping critical, important, research.”