President Trump has proposed crippling cuts to federally supported research —including a reduction of medical research funding by nearly a fifth—that would be a disaster not just for innovation, but for Americans’ health and economic prosperity. Cuts at this unprecedented scale would have both immediate and long-term consequences: Promising research projects abandoned, labs closed, and cures to diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and drug addiction remaining beyond our grasp. We would squander our investments in training a skilled scientific workforce that populates the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, hindering our ability to develop new drugs. In the long run, the loss of funding would impact America’s healthcare system.
The proposed $5.8 billion cut to the NIH budget would be the equivalent of eliminating the entire budget for cancer research, or eliminating thousands of research grants! The proposed draconian 19% reduction would damage or halt projects ranging from child health to aging. Beyond the NIH, other agencies—including the USDA, DOE, and EPA—that fund the genetics community would have their budgets slashed.
While thousands of researchers would lose funding, forcing people in all stages of their careers out of research, it is the public who ultimately suffers the most from such broad and deep cuts. Advances in treating disease will slow. Agricultural innovations that protect the nation’s food supply will be abandoned. New sources of energy will not be developed. Our ability to predict severe storms and weather will falter. Monitoring of emerging infectious diseases will be less effective.
But the President’s budget outline is just a proposal: It is Congress that will ultimately decide how the budget is allocated. Medical research has traditionally been an investment with broad bipartisan support. It was the Republican-controlled Congress that gave the NIH a $2 billion funding boost for 2016, and had proposed additional increases for 2017. It was the Republican-controlled Congress that in December passed the 21st Century Cures Act with additional funding for NIH initiatives. Representatives from both parties have already expressed concern about the cuts to the NIH. Your actions in the coming months will make a difference.
Speak out about the importance of research funding and basic science. Contact your Senators and Representatives; their contact details are in the FASEB Legislative Action Center. Find advocacy resources via the Advocacy Toolkit. Participate in FASEB’s action alert pressing Congress to complete the 2017 budget (click on “advocacy campaigns” under the “Actions” section). Show your support in the March for Science on April 22nd being held in DC and in marches around the country (GSA is an official partner of the March).
Stay tuned for updates on GSA’s efforts to fight this budget proposal and tips on how to make your own voice heard on Capitol Hill.
President, Genetics Society of America
Jeannie T. Lee
Vice-President, Genetics Society of America