The Good and the Bad of the New Federal Budget

The Good and the Bad of the New Federal Budget

By: Susan Wiley

In August 2017, I wrote about impending cuts to the National Institutes of Health budget and that fear about massive cuts may be unfounded based on historical evidence. On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed a new spending bill into law. Congress decided to increase budgets for most government science and health agencies. The NIH will see a historic high level of funding at $37.1 billion, an increase of $3 billion from 2017. Other agencies who received a funding bump were:

  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC): +$1.1 billion
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): +$330 million
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): +$850 million
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): +$10 million

Global health initiatives did not receive an increase but did not suffer from funding cuts proposed by the president’s budget and funding remained level at $8.69B. Importantly, the Fogarty International Center remained funded at $76 million.

This is all good news, or at least it gives us some breathing room to continue to fund studies in process and devise short and long-term funding strategies. However, the future of most programs is still uncertain. It is unlikely that these increased levels of funding are sustainable and that all programs will make it through the next budget unscathed. Moreover, NIH is seeing a continued reduction in its purchasing power due to year over year flat funding that does not keep up with inflation and sequestration (JHU Office of Government and Community Affairs, April 16, 2018). The ramifications of lost purchasing power include reduced funding for postdoctoral fellows, scaling back of patient numbers in funded trials, and fewer new programs.

Which areas are getting the most attention and funding?

Alzheimer’s and dementia disease research will receive $1.8 billion, $496 million to the BRAIN Initiative, and $290 million to the All of Us precision medicine initiative.

What does this mean for science and health research funding and the School of Nursing?

We need to heighten our level of activism and visibility to the public and politicians. Faculty who apply for funding need to have a very thorough understanding of all agency policies and agendas. At the School of Nursing, our vocal and strong nurse leaders’ trips to Washington to advocate for nursing education, research, and improved patient care continue to shape health care policy and research funding.

Aligning your research with sponsoring agencies’ missions is more important than ever. Cultivating and maintaining relationships with program officers and agency contacts are also imperative. To this purpose, the NIH RePORTER Matchmaker feature is invaluable for new investigators, or those applying to funding under an unfamiliar Institute Center (IC). Along with research bios and manuscript abstracts, the Matchmaker feature searches contacts in specific areas.

If you require help with any research funding support, the Office for Science and Innovation provides resources including editorial and biostatistics support, grant writing advice as well as facilitating connections with internal and external research and support resources.

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