The American Society of Nephrology President Eleanor D. Lederer, MD, FASN, has issued a statement criticizing the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health. The cuts were proposed as part of the administration’s 2018 discretionary budget proposal, released March 13.

“The American Society of Nephrology condemns the Administration’s proposal to drastically cut funding for the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion, nearly 20% below current levels,” Lederer wrote in a statement released March 17. “Funding cuts of this unprecedented magnitude would slow research to find treatments and cures for the 40 million Americans with kidney diseases nationwide and delay innovative kidney therapies for the next generation.

“In 1972, Congress committed to providing care for Americans with kidney failure regardless of age or income. The Medicare program spends $103 billion on care for all kidney diseases, and a recent Government Accountability Office report highlighted that Medicare annually spends nearly $33 billion on dialysis care for people with kidney failure—more than the entire annual NIH budget of $32 billion. While we recognize both the tough economic climate and the necessity of fostering sound fiscal policy, cutting research funds will delay the essential development of groundbreaking therapies, increasing future expenses.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science CEO Rush Holt said in a statement that the budget “would cripple the leading role the United States plays in advancing science.”

“The administration’s proposed cuts would threaten our nation’s ability to advance cures for disease, maintain our technological leadership, ensure a more prosperous energy future and train the next generation of scientists and innovators to address the complex challenges we face today and in the future,” Holt said.

ASN is urging Congress to reject the NIH cuts, finalize the FY 2017 budget of $34.1 billion, and provide a $2 billion increase over FY 2017 for FY 2018, with a proportional increase for the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases.

“Given the federal government’s unique commitment to care for kidney failure, ASN strongly recommends greater investment in kidney research in the form of an NIDDK Special Kidney Research Program,” Lederer said.