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The Trump Budget: An 18.3 Percent Cut to Pennsylvania’s National Institutes of Health Funding

A scientist conducts research to discover new HIV drugs in Pennsylvania in February 2013.

The Trump administration released its long-anticipated budget targets last week, providing more detail on exactly how President Donald Trump will meet his goal of cutting $54 billion in nondefense discretionary spending in order to boost defense spending by roughly the same amount. The budget details released by President Trump largely represent a hodgepodge of recycled ideas from previous conservative spending plans—that is, where they offer any details at all. These cuts would directly threaten the safety and economic security of ordinary Pennsylvanians, while benefiting wealthy and powerful corporations.

In particular, Trump’s proposed cuts would cripple a wide array of programs that support medical research. Cuts to institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, would have a major impact on Pennsylvania. NIH grants fund critical research that leads to breakthroughs in medicine, saving lives.

Trump’s $293 million cut to Pennsylvania’s NIH funding

Last year, the NIH made 3,464 grants to organizations in Pennsylvania, totaling $1.6 billion. In fact, Pennsylvania was the 4th most highly funded state in 2016. The Trump administration’s budget outline would cut NIH funding by $5.8 billion, an 18.3 percent drop. This proposal would have pared Pennsylvania’s NIH grant allotment to just $1.3 billion if it had been applied this year.

This funding cut also threatens medical research projects in Pennsylvania scheduled to receive NIH support in future years. For example, Trump’s deep budget cuts could threaten projects including:

  • University of Pennsylvania research on how to appropriately diagnose concussions in order to better inform how they are treated
  • Development of vaccines to prevent HIV at the University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh research on the addictiveness of nicotine to figure out how to break people from their addiction to cigarettes
  • University of Pittsburgh research that will assist in treating Lou Gherig’s disease
  • Pennsylvania State University research into understanding how childhood trauma affects people into adulthood

While the Trump administration may try to disguise cuts to funding as solely administrative or structural changes to the NIH, the Trump administration’s budget would almost certainly hit core NIH funding and cut off resources for ground-breaking medical breakthroughs.

Conclusion

Major reductions for National Institutes of Health funding would hit key programs in Pennsylvania such as those working to find cures for major diseases. Cuts to NIH funding are just one piece of a budget that is likely to force severe service shortages across an array of programs that Pennsylvanians depend on. Elected officials representing Pennsylvanians in Washington must take notice of the impact that the Trump budget would have on Pennsylvania families.

 Ryan Erickson is the Associate Director for Economic Campaigns at the Center for American Progress. Harry Stein is Director of Fiscal Policy at the Center.