Photographer: Jose Luis Magana/AP

White House Proposes Large Cuts to NIH Research This Year

  • NIH-funded research would drop by $1.23 billion in fiscal 2017
  • AIDS assistance worldwide faces cut of almost $300 million

President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed cutting $1.23 billion this fiscal year from research funded by the National Institutes of Health, according to a White House document sent to congressional appropriators.

The reduction is part of $18 billion in cuts that the administration wants in fiscal 2017, which ends in October. Most of the proposed reductions at NIH would come from research grants, with $50 million specifically taken from a program meant to support biomedical research in states that typically get less agency money.

The spending proposal is part of a wider agenda set out by Trump, who has outlined a series of reductions in non-military programs for the next fiscal year. It’s up to Congress to set spending levels, and many of the more drastic measures are unlikely to become law. Legislators never approved a full budget for fiscal 2017, so instead the government is operating under short-term funding legislation that expires April 28.

Asked if there was a chance the cuts would be implemented, Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican who serves on the Appropriations Committee, said “No. No.”

AIDS Initiative

A worldwide initiative to help people with HIV and AIDS, known as PEPFAR and heavily focused on patient treatment in Africa, would be slashed by almost $300 million under the plan. The savings would be found by slowing the rate of new patients put on treatment and reducing support to “low-performing countries.” States also would face a $50 million cut that would target “less effective HIV research and prevention activities.”

Trump has already proposed cutting biomedical research at the NIH by $5.8 billion next fiscal year, or about 18 percent below 2017 levels. The Office of Management and Budget called the change “a major reorganization of NIH’s institutes and centers to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities.” The Trump administration is requesting $65.1 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services in fiscal 2018, down from $84.6 billion in 2016.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is scheduled to appear before the House Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday to talk about the budget proposal for his department, which NIH and and some of the PEPFAR cuts fall under.

Other proposed health cuts for the current year include:

  • $40 million from staffing funds at the Food and Drug Administration, achieved in part with “slower than anticipated hiring.”
  • $50 million from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which may delay missions and reduce grants.
  • $350 million from research grants at the National Science Foundation for biology, information science and engineering.
  • $372 million from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program that helps people heat their homes.

— With assistance by Justin Sink, and Steven T. Dennis

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