During his budget blueprint announced earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced swingeing cutbacks across federal programs, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) set for a $5.8 billion slashing.
This would be around a 20% cut for the NIH, an organization that helps run a series of early-stage, translational biomedical research each year alongside academia and biotechs. The cuts have not been put through and must still be approved by Congress, which does not have to follow the plans.
The blowback for Trump was however immediate, with UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, ASCO, J. Craig Venter, executive chair and founder of biotech Human Longevity, and, more moderately, BIO, all raising their concerns about what the cuts will mean for research.
Now, a new coalition has come out of the criticism to help preserve federal funding levels for the NIH, which were around $31 billion last year. Details were thin, but ‘The Coalition to Save NIH Funding’ is said in a release to be made of: “Stakeholders in healthcare, research, pharmaceutical development, patient advocacy and other non-profit organizations.”
Exactly who these are have not been made public as yet, with the PR posted by health campaign firm JPA Health Communications. The members will however be the ones to set the agenda and priorities for the Coalition.
In a statement to FierceBiotech, JPA said that it’s been: “Contacted by a fair number of stakeholders interested in getting involved,” but that: “At this time, it’s too early to share names.”
The comms firm tells me of its plans: “This Coalition creates the framework for industry, researchers and patient groups to work collaboratively to protect biomedical research and innovation. Already, we’ve had a number of conversations with life science organizations and one of the nation’s top biomedical research universities. We’re pleased to see the interest in this effort go beyond the Beltway, as we’re talking with folks on the West coast, too.
“While JPA will be coordinating the traditional materials (i.e., position papers, media engagement), our efforts are focused on helping people understand why research is important, why and how patients benefit from it, and why the cuts will be devastating in state and local districts. What develops from basic research touches each and every one of us. We must protect it.”
The Coalition says that it also wants to: “Educate lawmakers and American citizens about the critical importance of investing in biomedical research."
“We were dismayed to learn that the NIH is vulnerable to deep funding cuts,” said Carrie Jones, principal of D.C.-based JPA. “Each day America benefits from the innovation and scientific discoveries made at the NIH. We won't sit idly by and watch critical research be stifled.”