The funding of biomedical research, through the National Institute of Health (NIH), has been receiving bipartisan support as of late. The Senate has put forward a bill that would increase NIH funding by $2 billion, and the House has put forward a bill that would increase funding by $1.1 billion. Both numbers are higher than the President’s request of a $1 billion increase. While these numbers may make it seem that science funding as a whole is gaining support, this does not hold true for other major funding agencies.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports about 20% of all federally funded basic research, but the Congress has proposed to fund it at a level $329 million below the President’s budget request. This would result in about 600 fewer grants – affecting about 7,900 researchers. While basic research may not have the defined goals of biomedical research, it is not any less important. In fact, basic research supported by NSF led directly to the development of Google. Last year, $4 billion worth of high to excellent rated NSF proposals were left unfunded according to France A. Córdova, director of the NSF. Undoubtedly, potential discoveries are being left behind.
Perhaps most troubling, is that the Congress has specifically proposed drastic cuts to NSF, NASA, and National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research related to studying the climate. Even the Pope is in line with the current scientific consensus that climate change is happening and is affecting not only our planet, but also our health. Therefore, funding into this area of research should, at the minimum, be maintained.
While it is positive that biomedical research is enjoying bipartisan support, it is clear that support for other areas of science is still divided. Importantly, we must urge politicians to not divest from these other crucial programs.
Managing Correspondent: Joseph Timpona