Recommended Research Funding

FY 2024 Recommended Funding

Federal investments in fundamental research have led to remarkable progress in the biological and biomedical sciences—an increasingly multidisciplinary team-based effort. These collaborative research efforts have enabled investigators to respond to pressing scientific challenges. 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.  

A major contributing factor to the success of team science is the mobilization of core facilities and shared research resources (SRRs), including the scientific technology and expertise infrastructure within research organizations. SRRs and cores work across different scientific disciplines and deliver unbiased research data in support of scientific rigor and transparency. They are essential training grounds for the next generation of skills-based scientists from diverse backgrounds.

Despite Congress’ bipartisan support for investing in science, federal funding for research has not kept pace with scientific opportunity, 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 continue to prioritize increasing investments in science, shared resource facilities, including 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, more than 67 million workers in the U.S. are professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. STEM economic activity accounted for 40.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product in 2021.2  

The federal government should commit to robust, predictable, and sustained funding increases for science agencies. FASEB’s fiscal year (FY) 2024 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 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   

There is also the need to keep pace with the persistently increasing costs of research. Lab supplies are 20 percent more expensive due to continued supply chain issues. Labor costs have also grown, placing additional pressure on researchers who must carefully manage their grant budgets. Additionally, there is the need to continue to support pandemic preparedness efforts where the effects of COVID-19 variants are still impacting global economic growth which has dropped from 4.1 percent in 2022 to 3.2 percent in 2023. Also U.S. life expectancy has decreased by 2.7 years for the total population due to excess deaths related to COVID and other causes and even more so for certain races and ethnic groups who were disproportionally affected by the pandemic.56 

Though the NIH is in a stronger position than it was a few years ago, Congress must continue to increase biomedical research funding and continue pandemic preparedness efforts while researchers face inflation of 6.4 percent.7 Our nation is confronting public health threats, especially given global climate change, land use, and international travel, that requires an even closer understanding of One Health–the collaborative, multisector, and transdisciplinary intersection of biological science, earth sciences, and ecology to optimize health outcomes. More research will be needed to address infectious diseases, long COVID, and the more than 10,000 rare diseases with zero or few treatment options while still making progress on more common diseases.8
In the U.S., we must also continue to address the needs of a growing aging population and the serious disease of obesity.910  NIH research is developing therapies for a whole spectrum of age-related disorders.11 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 and is a substantial obstacle to military recruitment.1213  Additionally, minority populations experience a higher prevalence of these diseases.14

Our recommendation of at least $50.92 billion is  $3.4 billion (7.2 percent increase) above FY 2023. With this funding level, NIH will have the necessary resources to accelerate progress across all areas of medical science, including regenerative medicine, cancer immunotherapy, and neurological health.15, 1617 The agency will also be able to continue its commitment to support the next generation of our biomedical research enterprise.18 

FASEB FY 2024 Recommendation: at least $50.924 billion for NIH. Funding for ARPA-H should supplement rather than supplant the budget as intended by ARPA-H's authorization.

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 the newly created Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP), 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.  However, NSF must have enough funds to enable steady, sustained increases across the entire agency. While the appropriated $9.9 billion represents a 12 percent increase over the FY 2023 enacted level, it is still lower than the $10.5 billion in the president's FY 2023 budget request, which means the agency will need to make cuts to priority areas when developing their FY 2023 spend plan. Additionally, without the supplemental appropriation, NSF's FY 2023 funding would have been held flat at $8.8 billion. NSF will also need increased appropriations to enable the agency to double grant award amounds and increase their duration from three to four years as noted by the Appropriations Committee in FY 2022.19

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.20   
  • 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.21  
  • 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 and broaden participation in science and engineering among underrepresented and diverse groups.22  
Despite its critical role in accelerating science and innovation, NSF’s budget has been flat in constant dollars since the 2010 COMPETES Act. 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 Three billion of top-rated grants applications are declined.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.26 
Our recommendation of at least $15.7 billion for NSF is $5.8 billion (59% increase) above FY 2023 enacted $9.9 billion, which includes one-time emergency supplemental funding.27 This will allow NSF to further attract high qualified early-career researchers, fund more high-quality research proposals, and increase NSF’s average award size.28 In addition to supporting the biological sciences, this funding level will support NSF’s new TIP Directorate, 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 to address the country’s societal, national, and geostrategic challenges. TIP will also grow the domestic workforce in key technology focus areas which include biotech, data storage and management and high-performance computing and expanding participation of researchers at all levels of education to build infrastructure for use-inspired and translational research, support mentoring, identify the drivers of innovation to enable advances, and develop beneficial partnerships with black and tribal colleges, minority-serving institutions, and nonprofits, among other groups.29  

FASEB FY 2024 Recommendation: at least $15.7 billion for NSF.

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 funds a workforce of more than 22,000 PhDs, graduate students, engineers and undergraduates and staff at over 300 universities.30 The facilities and personnel supported by DOE SC operate at the intersection of basic and applied sciences and include critical fields such as biological sciences and high-performance computing. Transformative innovations and technologies can be traced to its work, including solar cells, superconductors, and nanotechnology. 31, 32
Agencies like NIH, NSF, and DOE SC work in concert to advance research in key areas including artificial intelligence and genomics.33, 34 DOE 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. Nearly half of users are faculty and students from all 50 states.35 The Office of Science is in charge of 10 of the 17 DOE National Labs.36 National labs were integral to the creation of the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory and the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium.

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.37 Pursuant to the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, Congress agreed on authorization levels for the Office of Science for five years beginning in FY 2023. FY 2024 the law authorizes $9.5 billion.38 This is a $1.4 billion (17 percent increase) over FY 2023 enacted and 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.

FASEB FY 2024 Recommendation: at least $9.5 billion for DOE SC. 

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 grants program for agriculture that supports education, research, extension, and integrated projects. 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 advances, including new wheat cultivars and novel ways to combat invasive species. 39, 40

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 65 percent of its authorization, leaving hundreds of innovative proposals unfunded. According to the latest AFRI 2020 annual report, of the total 2,783 competitive grant applications for FY 2020, awards totaling $377,748,316 were made to 715 high-ranked applications across AFRI with a success rate of 24 percent. There were an additional 895 proposals that were highly ranked (Outstanding, High Priority, or Medium Priority) which were unsupported due to a lack of federal funding.
AFRI should be funded at its full $700 million authorization, which is $245 million above FY 2023 enacted (53 percent increase), to fulfill its mission as the leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences.

FASEB FY 2024 Recommendation: at least $700 million for AFRI.

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.41 In FY 2023, the VA Office of Research and Development (ORD) anticipated funding approximately 2,697 total projects and partnering with more than 200 medical schools and other academic institutions.42  

Despite recent increases in appropriations, several areas of VA research remain underfunded, including post-deployment mental health, substance abuse, and the long-term 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 (an increase of $64 million or a 7 percent increase over FY 2023) 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).43 In addition, this funding level would facilitate new investments in VA’s IT infrastructure to address the collection and use of big data.  

FASEB FY 2024 Recommendation: at least $980 million for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program.