Recommended Research Funding

FY 2025 Recommended Funding

The federal government is viewed as the primary driver of U.S. science and technology advancements.1 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.2 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 a 2023 analysis from Science Is Us, more than 67 million workers in the U.S. are professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and direct STEM economic activity accounted for 40.5 percent of U.S gross domestic product in 2021.3

The federal government should commit to robust, predictable, and sustained funding increases for science agencies. FASEB’s fiscal year (FY) 2025 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. NIH funded investigators across the U.S. can also attract partners and investors to take innovation to market through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Federally funded researchers drive robust economic activity directly and indirectly in their communities while also supporting the pharmaceutical industry through the development of new knowledge.4

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.

NIH-funded investigators recently demonstrated the  effective ability to harness animal research and maximize  public-private partnerships by collaborating with industry to develop a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine which was quickly adapted for COVID-19.5 However, this technology also holds much promise for gene therapy, fighting cancer, and infectious diseases, including flu, by telling the body’s cell to produce proteins that train the immune system to defend the body.6 The agency also accelerated the development and commercialization of COVID testing through the Radx initiative.7 NIH and researchers supported by the agency learned crucial lessons in supporting science, improving response efforts when a pandemic pathogen emerges, and moving research from findings to the clinic due to its response to COVID-19. These lessons will improve cross-sector initiatives to inform future public health research responses.8

There is also the need to keep pace with the persistently increasing costs of research. Scientists are still fighting inflation at the bench. Items such as reagents, gloves, pipette tips, microscopes and other supplies needed to conduct science are more expensive than they were just a year ago.9 Labor costs have also grown, placing additional pressure on researchers who must carefully manage their grant budgets. Despite the recent swift rebound in U.S. economic growth, in 2024, economic growth is likely to decelerate with U.S. GDP growth slowing to 1.4% with inflation still too high.10 Our nation also faces a significantly widening gap in life expectancy between men and women.  Life expectancy for men fell to 73, nearly six years less than for women and the largest gap since 1996, due to the opioid epidemic and COVID-19 impacting men more.11,12

Although NIH is in a stronger position than it was a few years ago, Congress must continue to increase biomedical research funding and continue to improve efforts to diversify the scientific workforce by training those from groups underrepresented in health-related research. This broadens the diversity of thought in research topics.

In FY 2022, NIH had a success rate of 20.7 percent due to 4,301 fewer research projects grants (RPGs) being received compared to FY 2021 and an increase in the average nominal cost per RPG of 1.9 percent.13 Despite increased funding for NIH in the final FY 2023 omnibus appropriations bill, researchers still faced an inflationary environment of 3.4 percent last year impacting the scope of their research.14  

Our nation is confronting public health threats, especially given global warming, 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 – not less – research will be needed to address infectious diseases, long COVID, and the over 10,000 rare diseases with zero or few treatment options while still making progress on more common diseases.15 

In the U.S., we must also continue to address the needs of a growing aging population and the serious disease of obesity.16,17 NIH-funded research is developing therapies for a whole spectrum of age-related disorders.18 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.19 20 Additionally, minority populations experience a higher prevalence of these diseases.21

Our recommendation of at least $51.3 billion is $3.57 billion (7.5 percent increase) above the comparable FY 2024 level approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. With that funding level, NIH will have the resources needed to accelerate progress across all areas of medical science, including regenerative medicine, cancer immunotherapy, and neurological health.22,23,24 The agency will also be able to continue its commitment to supporting the next generation of our biomedical research enterprise.25 

FASEB FY 2025 Recommendation: at least $51.3 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 recently 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.

As of this writing, the FY 2024 budget has not been finalized. However, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, (P.L. 118-5), reduces FY 2024 nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending to $704 billion which is below the FY 2023 level. The bipartisan top line agreement between the House and Senate raises NDD to $773 billion for FY 2024. However, there is no guarantee that with this increase, NSF will receive enough to reach the CHIPS and Science Act (P.L. 117-167) authorized level for FY 2024 of $15.65 billion.26

In FY 2023, NSF benefited from over $1 billion in emergency supplemental funding and was appropriated a total of $9.9 billion. With $335 million of that directed towards implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act, $9.5 billion was left for more traditional use which still required the agency to make cuts to priority areas when they developed their FY 2023 spend plan. NSF faces additional challenges should Congress fail to provide the agency with its authorized level in the final FY 2024 appropriations bill, including being unable to meet the urgent needs in emerging industries, building a resilient planet, and supporting workforce efforts to scale our science and innovation ecosystem to meet our competitive needs. These include scaling the Regional Innovation Engines program supporting innovation in geographies that have not received the full benefits of technology advancements in decades; increasing work in artificial intelligence; and expanding programs in other emerging areas such as biotechnology and scaling the science ecosystem.27

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.28   
  • 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.29
  • 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, advancing AI, and promoting national security. 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.30  
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 29 percent of the high-quality research proposals that were submitted, rather than the National Science Board recommendation of 30 percent.31 While the trend in NSF awards is improving, there are still deserving proposals that do not receive funding, leaving a rich portfolio of research opportunities to explore.32  

Meanwhile, according to the National Science Board’s Science & Engineering (S&E) Indicators 2022 report, the U.S. is falling behind at 10 percent compared to China’s 49 percent of international patents received from 2010 to 2020.33 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 US compared to 11 percent for upper middle-income countries such as China, Russia, and Brazil over a ten year period.34   

Our recommendation of at least $16.7 billion for NSF is $6.8 billion (68 percent increase) above the FY 2023 enacted level of $9.9 billion, which includes one-time emergency supplemental funding.35 This will allow NSF to further attract highly qualified early-career researchers, fund more high-quality research proposals, and increase NSF’s average award size.36 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 includes biotech, data storage and management, 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.37  

FASEB FY 2025 Recommendation: at least $16.7 billion for NSF.

The DOE Office of Science (SC)’s mission is the delivery of scientific discoveries and major scientific tools such as its three world-leading supercomputers 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 29,000 PhDs, postdoctoral associates, graduate students, and other scientific personnel at over 310 universities. Over 39,500 users engage with its facilities, supporting research spanning all 50 states and Puerto Rico, Guam, and Washington, DC. It has also produced 100 Nobel prize winning scientists.38 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.39,40 

Agencies like NIH, NSF, and DOE SC work in concert to advance research in key areas including artificial intelligence and genomics.41,42 The Office of Science is in charge of 10 of the 17 DOE National Labs.43 National labs were integral to the creation of the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory and the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. They also deliver inventions, are integral to our national security, and serve as regional engines of economic growth for states and communities across the nation. 

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.44 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. For FY 2024 the law authorizes $9.5 billion.45 The FY 2024 number has not yet been finalized by Congress, but is likely to be far short of the $9.5 billion needed to continue critical facilities upgrades and support pathbreaking research in emerging areas such as quantum science while also advancing climate research and growing a skilled, diverse, and inclusive workforce of researchers, scientists, and professionals. Our recommendation of at least $9.5 billion for NSF is $1.4 billion (17 percent increase) above the FY 2023 enacted level of $8.1 billion.

FASEB FY 2025 Recommendation: at least $9.5 billion for DOE SC. 

Our agricultural system faces unprecedented challenges, including increased global food and fuel demand, water availability, and training a diverse agricultural workforce.

Agricultural research is key to ensuring food security, economic stability, sustainable development, and a robust middle class. However, public funding for U.S. agricultural research has declined by nearly one-third in the past two decades. At the same time, China has stepped up its spending in this area to more than $10 billion a year - more than double what the U.S. spends.46 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.47,48

Despite AFRI’s progress – and the need for scientifically informed solutions – the program is appropriated at about 65 percent of its authorization level of $700 million, leaving hundreds of innovative proposals unfunded.  Data from the U.S. Economic Research Service indicates that for every $1 in public investment, U.S. food and agriculture R&D has returned $20 to the American economy.49 

AFRI’s FY 2021 requests for applications included 52 programs. A total of 2,815 competitive grant applications, requesting $2,499,066,796, were received, and reviewed through a competitive peer review process. Awards totaling $475,582,119 ($405,370,503 in FY2021 funds, $70,211,616 in FY 2022 funds) were made to 722 highly-ranked applications distributed across the program.  

An additional 1,030 proposals were recommended for funding—rated as Outstanding, High Priority, or Medium Priority—by review panels and could have been supported, had there been more federal funding available. The success rate for AFRI applications in FY 2021, calculated in terms of number of proposals funded divided by the number of proposals submitted for review, was 25 percent.50 

AFRI should be funded at $500 million ($45 million or 9.9 percent above the enacted FY 2023 level) to fulfill its mission as the leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences.

FASEB FY 2025 Recommendation: at least $500 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, non-profits, 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.51 The VA Office of Research and Development (ORD) continues to prioritize research focused on the needs of disabled Veterans including precision oncology, prosthetics, mental health, and suicide prevention as well as other disease areas.  

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 $1.05 billion ($584 million or 63.8 percent above the FY 2023 enacted level) for VA research would support meaningful growth above inflation, allowing for rapid translation of findings to improve patient care and the development of innovative treatments for veterans. VA also needs more resources, especially computing, as it has now reached a milestone in health research by enrolling over one million veterans in the Million Veteran Program (MVP) to help advance the care of present and future veterans through understanding the impact of genetics on health.52 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 2025 Recommendation: at least $1.05 billion for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program.