Trump Proposes Significant Cuts to NIH for 2021 Budget
Trump Proposes Significant Cuts to NIH for 2021 Budget

Trump Proposes Significant Cuts to NIH for 2021 Budget

The president’s request for next year’s federal budget includes a 7 percent drop in funding for the National Institutes of Health and reductions for other science agencies.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Feb 11, 2020


In the 2021 budget request sent to Congress yesterday (February 10), President Donald Trump has requested that the National Institutes of Health’s budget drop from more than $41 billion this year to $38.7 billion, a 7 percent cut, and that the National Science Foundation’s budget drop by 6 percent to around $6.3 billion, Science reports.

Science advocates are not pleased. “The administration’s proposed budget cuts to research risk slowing our nation’s science just when it is reaping benefits for all Americans in the forms of better health, a stronger economy, a more sustainable environment, a safer world, and awe-inspiring understanding,” Sudip Parikh, the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), tells The Washington Post.

Among other items on the chopping block, the number of new NIH research grants would drop, Ross McKinney, the chief scientific officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, notes on Twitter, writing, “this would be devastating to American biomedical Science.” This year the agency will fund an estimated 11,379 new and competing research grants, Science reports; with Trump’s proposed budget, that number could drop to fewer than 10,000.

In previous years, Congress has rejected such reductions and has actually increased science spending in recent years. “Trump is being Trump,” City College of New York physicist Michael Lubell tells Nature. “He can ask for what he wants, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”

The spending proposal is not all reductions. The President also calls for increases to NASA’s budget over the next five years to help sent astronauts to the moon again and to Mars for the first time, Reuters notes.

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist. Email her at