Universities say proposed NIH grant cuts will halt some research

Jul 12, 2017

Credit Michigan State University

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel says proposed cuts to National Institutes of Health grants would be devastating.

He says the U of M could lose $92 million if the cuts go through.

The Trump administration is proposing to strictly cap the amount allowed for overhead, including facilities and administration costs.

For the University of Michigan, "that amounts to perhaps 1,000 employees who would lose their jobs," says Schlissel, "but even more than that, the work itself – that is so important to the future health of us and our fellow citizens, to the innovation that drives the economy and is necessary for our global competitive  success as a country – the work would stop."

Schlissel says it's impossible to do research without necessary infrastructure and materials, like biomedical libraries, heat and light, grant administrators, lab supplies, and building maintenance.

Steve Lanier is vice president of research at Wayne State University. He says the university could lose about $14 million if the cuts are enacted. Lanier says the action could jeopardize important applied health research like clinical trials as well as basic research.

"You never know where that original idea is going to come from," says Lanier, "and so when you end up cutting back you're going to end up compromising the development of unexpected cures."

The proposal would strictly cap the amount that researchers could get for overhead costs.

Schlissel says that overhead covers necessary things like heat and lights, building maintenance, and biomedical libraries.