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    Congress says 'no' to Trump NIH budget cuts

    Concern remains over possible funding reduction in 2018

     

    While he welcomed the congressional action on the 2017 NIH budget, Dr. Shore is concerned about threatened cuts next year. The administration has asked Congress to provide NIH a total of $25.9 billion for FY 2018, which begins Oct. 1—a reduction of $5.8 billion, or 18% from the agency’s 2016 level of $31.7 billion.

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    “By taking $6 billion from the NIH in 2018 (and funneling that money into the Department of Defense, supposedly to fight ISIS), the Trump administration would set the agency’s budget back 15 years, below its 2003 level,” wrote Michael White, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, in an article published by Pacific Standard. “Such a drastic cut would not just reduce the amount of science done by U.S. scientists—it would harm our scientific workforce and infrastructure in ways that would take years, if not decades, to recover from.”

    That is a primary concern of Dr. Shore.

    “Providing appropriate funding for medical research is really important,” he said. “I feel very passionate about it. If we keep gutting our financial support for the best and brightest minds who have the desire and the DNA to be researchers, what is that going to do to our medical centers, our university research programs, and what will be the impact on everybody in the world who looks to us for a solution?”

    Dr. Shore pointed out that “over the last 10 years, the amount of funding that has gone into urologic oncologic care and research has been plateaued, if not decreased. Now to slash it even more would not only be bad for global development of science, but would be particularly harmful to the U.S.’s position and standing as the leader in scientific research and development.

    “As a urologic oncologist and someone who’s dedicated his career for the last 20 years doing advanced cancer research in urology, I’ve witnessed incredible breakthroughs in basic science and clinical transitional research that have helped men and women with urologic diseases live many years longer, often resulting in a cure of their disease.

    “None would have been possible without the exceptional talent of researchers in urology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and NIH. NCI and NIH have been remarkable in their achievements, and the U.S. for the last 60 to 70 years has been at the forefront of clinical science research.”

    But, Dr. Shore said, if sufficient support is not provided for NIH research grants, “the brightest minds in our country and from throughout the world will seek funding and support elsewhere.”

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    In his article, Dr. White cited an analysis by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology that estimated Trump’s budget could force NIH to reduce funding for new research grant proposals by “a jaw dropping 88%” in 2018. Currently, he said, NIH awards between 9,000 and 10,000 new proposals each year, but the proposed cut could result in worst-case scenario of funding of just 1,200 new proposals in 2018, which would cause “lasting damage to U.S. science.”

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    Bob Gatty
    Bob Gatty, a former congressional aide, covers news from Washington for Urology Times.

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