Experts: Cuts to NIH Funding Would Be Devastating
The White House’s proposed $5.8 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health would be “devastating to the American people” and a “dramatic setback to medical progress.”
Those are some of the assessments proffered about the preliminary budget released earlier this year by the administration of President Donald J. Trump. A more detailed budget is expected in the coming weeks.
Suzanne Ffolkes, vice president of communications at Research!America, an Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance, decried the proposed cuts as “a dramatic setback to medical progress.”
“Americans who expect research to advance at the level of scientific opportunity will be deeply concerned about the short- and long-term impact of steep funding cuts as it relates to the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments to complex diseases and finding cures,” Ffolkes said.
She said robust investments are necessary to support public and private sector research and new technology that helps to deepen scientific understanding of genetic mutations and cancer cells.
“If we hope to continue to make great strides in immunotherapy treatment for cancer, for example, we must have sustained, predictable increases for the NIH,” Ffolkes said.
Ffolkes cited statistics from a Research!America survey that found 63 percent of Americans “agree that basic scientific research, even if it brings no immediate benefits, should be supported by the federal government.”
The survey also found that more than half — 52 percent — are willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain that all of the money would be spent on additional medical research.
“Patients anxiously waiting for the next medical breakthrough to improve their quality of life will be impacted, as innovative studies are shelved or delayed by insufficient funding,” Ffolkes said. “The careers of many young scientists will be in jeopardy as they compete for fewer grants.”
NIH explains on this webpage about its budget that it invests “nearly $32.3 billion annually in medical research for the American people.”
“More than 80 percent of the NIH’s funding is awarded through almost 50,000 competitive grants to more than 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 universities, medical schools, and other research institutions in every state and around the world,” the page states.
This link shows nearly 14,000 projects funded by NIH at institutions of higher education in fiscal 2017. The projects range from a $4.9 million project at Duke University known as “Duke Clinical Good Manufacturing Practices Facility for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Production,” to a $118,000 project at Howard University titled “Genetic Signatures Underlying Prostate Cancer Metastasis in African Americans.”