Deans and program directors from more than 60 public health schools on Thursday signed onto two letters sent to Senators asking them to oppose President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposal that would eliminate funding for the National Institute of Health's Fogarty International Center.
They say the center is key to fighting the spread of infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola which killed more than 11,000 people across six countries including the U.S.
"Abolishing the Fogarty International Center would be a mistake," said the letter sent by the Association of School and Programs of Public Health. "The global health challenges facing the world threaten the highly mobile U.S. population more than most."
Trump proposes zeroing out the Fogarty Center's budget, which in 2016, was $70 million. The center aided collaboration between U.S. and international researchers to tackle global health challenges.
A second letter asked lawmakers to oppose a proposed 10% cap on the amount of money available through NIH grants to pay for research staff salaries and electricity and other utilities at laboratories. In 2016, NIH paid more than $6 billion in overhead costs to academic research institutions. Those costs are about 28% of the total value of an NIH grant and advocates say that's mostly due to complying with federal regulations and reporting.
"Such a fundamental change in the academic-federal research partnership will end the ability of many public health schools and programs to undertake important federally-sponsored research," the letter stated.
The Trump administration's proposed fiscal budget for 2018 calls for an overall 18% cut to NIH, a reduction of $5.8 billion from the agency's $31 billion budget.