The following is a statement from Benjamin Corb, public affairs director for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
In tonight’s State of the Union Address, President Donald Trump announced an ambitious goal to stop the spread of HIV / AIDS by the year 2030. We applaud the president for such an ambitious plan, and look forward to seeing his detailed plans to make this a reality. The nation’s biomedical research community – much of which is supported by federal investments at the National Institute’s for Health – is positioned to help make this goal a reality.
What remains to be seen, however, is if this is a plan and commitment to make a difference to a community of patients in need, or just another hollow promise from an administration that has not been a friend to science.
In his first two years in office, we have not seen a president committed to supporting the nation’s research community.
- In the President’s first budget, he proposed a 17 percent cut to NIH funding for FY18, including a $1.6 billion cut to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and a $3.5 million cut to NIH’s Office of AIDS Research. Thankfully Congress saw the value of this research differently, and increased funding across the board at the NIH.
- Trump proposed a $0 budget for the NIH’s Fogarty International Center (which funds international research on AIDS) for FY17 (which Congress rejected), and proposed cuts again for FY19.
- Trump also proposed cuts to a variety of programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including cuts to the CDC’s Domestic HIV / AIDS Prevention and Research program, and cuts to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in FY17 and FY18.
In short, the president’s track record does not instill confidence in this latest, aggressive initiative.
We at the ASBMB, and many in the research community find the President’s goal aggressive, and one that should be supported by the Administration and Congress, and we look forward to fulfilling the role biomedical researchers will play in the accomplishment of this goal. In doing so, we will be active partners, and will work hard to keep President Trump accountable for this promise.