Recommended Funding

FY 2023 Recommended Funding

Federal investments in fundamental research have led to remarkable progress in the biological and biomedical sciences. Basic research was the groundwork for the speed—months instead of years—that led to the development of COVID-19 vaccines and also supports pre-clinical research involving the use of animal studies to achieve medical progress.  

Despite Congress’ bipartisan support for investing in science, federal funding for research has not kept pace, posing a threat to our nation’s competitiveness. We face a real threat of losing our edge in industries such as biotechnology if we do not prioritize increasing investments in science, research infrastructure such as core facilities, and building a diverse workforce.1 The U.S. spends less on research and development (R&D) than many countries. If the U.S. is to be prepared to respond to future threats, our scientific leadership must progress. According to Science Is Us, there is the added benefit of jobs. STEM supports 69 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, touches two out of three workers, and generates $2.3 trillion in tax revenue.2  

The federal government should commit to robust, predictable, and sustained funding increases for science agencies. FASEB’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 funding recommendations are as follows: 

The NIH is the nation’s largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, providing competitive grants to support the work of 300,000 scientists at universities, medical centers, independent research institutions, and companies nationwide. The biomedical discoveries, innovations, and treatments that NIH supports is are possible because of scientific research with animals which provide in-depth knowledge of entire biological systems and complex disorders affecting multiple organs. As required by the Food and Drug Administration, animal research is also essential during the preclinical stage of drug development to determine the safety and efficacy of potential drugs and therapies prior to human clinical trials.  

A recent example of NIH’s effective ability to harness animal research and maximize its public-private partnerships, NIH collaborated with industry to develop a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine which was quickly adapted for COVID-19.3  The agency also accelerated the development and commercialization of COVID testing through the Radx initiative.4   

With these resources, NIH has accelerated progress across all areas of medical science, including regenerative medicine, cancer immunotherapy, and neurological health.5,6,7 The agency is also committed to supporting the next generation of our biomedical research enterprise.8  

Though the NIH is in a stronger position than it was a few years ago, Congress must continue to increase biomedical research funding to continue pandemic preparedness efforts, not to mention the largest 12-month increase in inflation since June 1982 at 7 percent.9 Our nation is confronting public health threats, especially given global climate change that is negatively impacting biodiversity and one health – the intersection of biological science, earth sciences, and ecology. More research will be needed to address infectious diseases, and greater exposure to environmental threats that impact national security, public health, and economic progress.10 Additionally, having to operate under lengthy “continuing resolutions” over the last several fiscal years has impacted NIH’s ability to provide predictable support to the research community due to not being able to fund new grants or projects until the agency received a final budget and while NIH has not be able to make all researchers set back by the pandemic whole.11  
  
In the U.S., we continue to address the needs of a growing aging population and the serious disease of obesity.12,13 NIH research is developing therapies for a whole spectrum of age-related disorders.14 Obesity impacts 42 percent of the U.S. population and increases the likelihood of developing costly medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.15  Additionally minority populations experience a higher prevalence of these diseases.16 

Our recommendation of $50 billion allows NIH to continue support for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative; and expand dual purpose research in biomedicine and agriculture among NIH and other federal agencies.17  
 

With a mandate to support fundamental research across all fields of science, engineering, and mathematics, the NSF is the cornerstone of our nation’s scientific and innovation enterprise while also advancing our security and economic interests. Through a new technology, innovation and partnerships directorate it will be better able to collaborate with other stakeholders to translate fundamental research into commercially viable products and services enhancing our competitiveness on the global stage.  At current funding levels, NSF is not meeting the needs of researchers with innovative ideas bridging multiple disciplines that could bring forth new technologies and industries. Doubling NSF’s grant award amounts and increasing their duration to four years from three years is needed.18 Many potentially fundable proposals are declined each year.  

Among federal science agencies, NSF has the unique capacity to:  
  • Support multi-disciplinary research: By leveraging its portfolio across the sciences, NSF funds cutting-edge research at the interface of the physical, biological, and social sciences to tackle challenges in creative ways, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and one health.19   
  • Organize and lead research partnerships at speed and scale: The NSF coordinates and leads interagency research endeavors, including partnerships with NIH and DOE SC. These collaborations advance public health and clean energy, the development of artificial intelligence, and other national priorities.20  
  • Train the next generation of scientists from diverse backgrounds: NSF plays a key role in creating educational pathways and supporting the accessibility of scientific education, training scientists from diverse backgrounds to increase inclusivity in science. These scientists–some of whom will become entrepreneurs–will work across different scientific disciplines, broaden participation in science and engineering among underrepresented and diverse groups.21  
Despite its critical role in accelerating science and innovation, NSF’s budget has been flat in constant dollars since the 2010 COMPETES Act.22 There is also a pressing need to expand our scientific enterprise across all disciplines as well as diversify the STEM workforce.  Recent data demonstrates that NSF was able to fund only 28 percent of the high-quality research proposals that were submitted, rather than the National Science Board recommendation of 30 percent.23 According to the FY 2020 Merit Review Digest from NSF, approximately $3.9 billion was requested for declined proposals that were rated Very Good or higher in the merit review process (about 4,233 declined proposals received ratings of 4.0 or greater). These declined proposals represent a rich portfolio of unfunded opportunities–proposals that, if funded, may have produced substantial research and education benefits.24  

Meanwhile, according to the National Science Board’s Science & Engineering (S&E) Indicators 2022 report, the US is falling behind at 10 percent compared to China’s 49 percent of international patents received from 2010 to 2020.25  The publication of research in peer-reviewed literature–the primary mechanism for disseminating new S&E knowledge–grew at an annual average rate of 3 percent for high-income countries such as the U.S. compared 11 percent for upper middle-income countries such as China, Russia, and Brazil over a 10-year period.  
 
Our recommendation of at least $11 billion, will allow NSF to establish a new grant program for early-career fellowships as envisioned in congressional legislation, fund more high-quality research proposals, and increase NSF’s average award size.2627 In addition, this funding level will support NSF’s new technology, innovation and partnerships directorate (TIP) which will work with all of NSF’s directorates and offices to advance the impacts of NSF-funded research by accelerating the translation of fundamental science and engineering discoveries into innovative new technologies and solutions. TIP will provide an optimized lab-to-market platform, fund the successful Partnerships for Innovation, Small Business Innovation Research, and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. NSF could also accelerate key priorities, including Big Ideas that include understanding the rules of life, future of work at the human-technology frontier, mid-scale research infrastructure, inclusion across the nation, Innovation Corps, biotechnology and harnessing the data revolution for 21st Century Science and Engineering and major investments in graduate education.28  

 

The DOE Office of Science (SC)’s mission is the delivery of scientific discoveries and major scientific tools to transform our understanding of nature and advance the energy, economic and national security of the U.S. It is also the nation’s largest supporter of physical sciences and supports over 28,000 PhDs, graduate students, engineers and undergraduates and staff at over 300 universities.29 Transformative innovations and technologies can be traced to its work, including solar cells, superconductors, and nanotechnology. 30, 31
  
Agencies like NIH, NSF, and DOE SC work in concert to advance research in key areas including artificial intelligence and genomics.32, 33 SC supports the network of DOE national laboratories and builds and operates the most sophisticated, world-class scientific user facilities used by over 36,000 researchers from universities, industry, and other federal agencies.34 National labs were integral to the creation of the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory and the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium that brought together the best minds to address covid.  

For the U.S. to remain at the forefront of science and technology, Congress must consistently sustain and upgrade major scientific facilities that support core research in areas such as bioscience, scientific computing, materials and chemical science, climate science, fusion energy, high energy and nuclear physics to keep up with global competitiveness.35  A FY 2023 budget of $8.8 billion would enable continued critical facilities upgrades and support pathbreaking research in emerging areas such as quantum science while also supporting climate research and a skilled, diverse, and inclusive workforce of researchers, scientists, and professionals. 

 

Our agricultural system faces unprecedented challenges, including global food and fuel demand, water availability, and training a diverse agricultural workforce. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is the lead federal agency providing extramural funding for food and agricultural sciences.  NIFA funds an interdisciplinary research portfolio that brings pioneering science to address complex problems through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), our nation’s leading competitive grans program for agriculture that supports education, research, extension, and integrated projects.36, 37, 38, 39

AFRI funds agricultural and food sciences research at colleges, universities, and other institutions nationwide. Established by the Farm Bill in 2008, AFRI funding, while not keeping pace with the cost of doing research, has resulted in numerous advancements, including new wheat cultivars and novel ways to combat invasive species.     
Despite AFRI’s progress–and the need for scientifically informed solutions–the program is appropriated at about 60 percent of its authorization, leaving hundreds of innovative proposals unfunded.
 
AFRI should be funded at its full $700 million authorization to fulfill its mission as the leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. 
 

The VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program improves veterans’ lives through innovations in basic, translational, and rehabilitation research and vital health services. Although focused on veterans’ health, all Americans benefit from VA’s collaboration with university partners, nonprofits, and private industry to advance research on health care and prevention strategies. The research program also enables the VA to recruit and retain a cadre of outstanding physician-scientists to care for our nation’s veterans.40 In FY 2022, the VA Office of Research and Development (ORD) anticipates funding approximately 2,563 total projects, supporting more than 1,700 investigators with direct ORD funds, and partnering with more than 200 medical schools and other academic institutions in 2022.41  

Despite recent increases in appropriations, several areas of VA research remain underfunded, including post-deployment mental health, substance abuse, and the longterm effects of hazardous materials exposure. These conditions are common among service members. ORD is also implementing an enhanced review process that requires stringent justification and multiple levels of authorization for proposals involving the use of animals in research. This research must be directly related to combat-related illness or injury.
 
FASEB’s recommendation of $980 million for VA research would support meaningful growth above inflation, allowing for rapid translation of findings to improve patient care and develop innovative treatments for veterans. VA also needs resources to enhance new efforts to address Covid-19 and continue support for the Million Veteran Program (MVP). 42 In addition, this funding level would facilitate new investments in VA’s IT infrastructure to address the collection and use of big data.