Will Trump's budget cuts to medical research stall a cure for HIV?

The President's recommendation would cut funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $6 billion, or approximately 19 percent, which translates to a cut of almost $1 billion in funding to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen sent a letter to the President on Friday in response to his budget blueprint released earlier this week. The president called for a "major reorganization" of NIH to stress the "highest priority research", but only specifically targeted for elimination the $69 million Fogarty International Center that focuses on global health and has played a big role in HIV research overseas. "Reducing NIH's funding by almost 20 percent will devastate our nation's already fragile federal research infrastructure and undercut a longstanding commitment to biomedical science that has fuelled advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment".

The Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) expresses opposition to President Donald Trump's proposed "skinny budget" for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. To get there, Trump would cut almost 20% at NIH and DOE science programs, and make even larger research reductions at EPA and NOAA.

It must be said that whilst the budget makes some worrying propositions, it is not yet final until the full budget becomes available in May. But university officials have long maintained that they could not afford to accept NIH grants if the government didn't also pay reasonable overhead costs. Trump said his blueprint increases defense spending without adding to the national debt, raises spending for immigration enforcement including resources for a wall on the border with Mexico and more law enforcement positions and expands funding to fight violent crime and reduce opioid abuse.

ASCO went on to state that the budget cut would place America behind other countries in scientific advances.

Based in Bethesda, Md., the NIH spends most of its annual budget - about 85 percent - on grants to thousands of researchers and medical institutions across the country.

"By placing much of the focus of deficit reduction on nondefense discretionary spending, the federal government has hampered its research and higher education investments that foster innovation and create new jobs, improve health, strengthen national security and enhance the knowledge and skills of the US work force", Coleman wrote.

The top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee is slamming proposed budget cuts to the IRS, an agency that is down more than 17,000 employees since 2010. "In order to continue to make strides in conquering diseases, funding NIH at appropriate and sustainable levels must be a priority".

"We really think we're kind of getting close to some breakthrough discoveries on cancer and other diseases", Ryan said yesterday in discussing Trump's proposed cut in NIH spending. Every agency is now under a spending freeze that took effect last fall after Congress failed to pass a budget for 2017.

"We can solve these problems", the former vice president said. The Trump administration has given an aging military infrastructure as the reason for wanting to divert more funding in that direction. The NCI issues grants for investigator-initiated research, clinical trials and initiatives that address healthcare disparities.

"This is potentially extremely damaging not only for cancer research but also across a number of different areas", he said.

The entire UC system benefits from NIH support, with UC, San Diego, winning more than $414 million in competitive grants past year - placing it squarely among the agency's top 10 recipients.

Such a reduction in federal funding would be counter to recent appropriations trends for the agency, which received a $2 billion boost in 2015.

  • Joanne Flowers