Trump's Health Sciences Priorities Don't Match His Budget

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The White House is pushing federal agencies to support research into drug addiction and public health issues months after proposing to slash more than $6 billion in research funding.

The Trump administration's first official list of science priorities, released Aug. 17, called for funding research and development into basic biomedical research and solutions for the country's aging population. The list is meant to act as a guide for agency heads developing their fiscal 2019 budget request.

Research groups warned the list may be filled with empty promises because it comes on the heels of the president's fiscal 2018 budget request, which asked to cut the National Institutes of Health budget by more than $6 billion, down to $25.9 billion, and the Department of Health and Human Services budget by $19.5 billion, down to $65.3 billion.

“If they're going to emphasize these areas, which we think they should, then they need to back those up in the budget,” Suzanne Ffolkes, a spokeswoman for Research!America, told Bloomberg BNA.

The list of science priorities also makes no mention of climate change, which was a major focus for the Obama administration.

The federal investment in research and development fell about 10 percent between 2007 and 2016, to $147.5 billion, according to data from Research!America, which advocates for research funding. The NIH and HHS make up roughly $62 billion of that annual investment. Much of this research and development money goes to universities and U.S. companies.

R&D Priorities

Federal funding of research and development programs and research infrastructure is crucial for advancing U.S. science and technology interests, Michael Kratsios, the White House deputy chief technology officer, said in the Aug. 17 memo to agency heads.

The memo directs federal agencies to “prioritize R&D efforts that will lead to more efficient and effective healthcare” and focus on basic biomedical research projects. Research groups are hopeful this memo is signaling the Trump administration next year will seek to boost research funding rather than cut it, Ffolkes said.!/articles/OV21E33H0JK0 (subscription only)

Media Contacts

Suzanne Ffolkes
VP Communications

Anna Briseño
Senior Manager of Communications

You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter