UMN Health Science Response to Proposed NIH Funding Cuts

The budget proposal announced last week was a wake-up call for the health sciences. While it is true that presidential budget proposals are only a first step in the federal budget process, the proposed 18 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has the potential to diminish science as a national priority. It is important that all of us speak out and remind our elected officials that science and discovery are critical to our country’s future.

The NIH is an agency without equal. No other nation has an agency so organized and dedicated to advancing the critical biomedical discoveries necessary for a healthy populace. When people refer to the NIH as the “crown jewel” of the United States government, they recognize the pride, importance, and relevance of this agency.

Our Schools and Centers across the health sciences show the power and effectiveness of the NIH. The funds we receive help us find cures and develop treatments that enhance the wellbeing of our nation’s citizens and citizens worldwide. NIH funding helps us search for new ways to treat pain without the addictive components of opioids. Research is helping children with deadly skin disorders develop the cells necessary to live a more normal life. It funds our Masonic Cancer Center, dedicated to developing screening tools and immunology treatments to help Americans live longer and healthier lives. It funds research into transplantation efficacy and maternal care. This is only a small fraction of the work we do in partnership with the NIH.

Deep cuts to the NIH budget would damage the research mission of this nation for a generation, and it will be hard to recover. We will achieve fewer medical advancements, and the quality of our health education and training would significantly decrease. Young people looking to biomedical research as a career path will be deterred by a lack of support and opportunity. We will lose bright minds and the ideas and possibilities of what could have been. What cures could have been achieved? What lives could have been saved?

I hope that Congress will provide adequate and necessary funding for the NIH, as proposed in the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act. I encourage you to take the time to contact your Senators and members of Congress to urge support of science, research and the NIH.

Brooks Jackson, M.D., M.B.A.
Dean of the Medical School
Vice President for the Health Sciences

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