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Weill Cornell Medicine's Commitment to Research

Dear Weill Cornell Medicine Community,

As Congressional committees develop next year's budget, one issue looms especially large for scientific investigators around the country. The Trump administration's FY 2018 budget proposal includes a $7.2 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health plus a 10% cap on reimbursement of facilities and administrative (F&A) costs on NIH grants.

F&A expenditures, which are also known as indirect costs, refer to expenses related to research infrastructure and operations, including utilities, high-speed data processing, waste disposal, and security and safety measures. Academic institutions are responsible for much of these costs already. Imposing a 10% cap on F&A reimbursements would seriously impair the ability of universities and medical schools to conduct the groundbreaking research that leads to new drugs, therapies, and cures.

At the beginning of July, I joined fifteen other deans of New York's medical schools in a letter to Congress expressing concerns over the NIH budget proposals. I have also been working with Cornell University, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and other partners to advocate for continued, sustained funding to the NIH. Last month I travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with AAMC leadership, and NIH funding issues were at the top of the agenda.

To our community of faculty investigators, postdoctoral trainees, students, technicians, and staff who are engaged in research here at Weill Cornell Medicine, I want to reiterate our institutional commitment to this most vital of activities. Research is a core component of our mission. Foundational discovery, translational studies that bring laboratory breakthroughs to the patient, clinical research, and clinical trials are all essential activities at Weill Cornell Medicine that must continue to be supported.

Weill Cornell Medicine physicians and scientists conducted over $130 million in NIH-funded research that helped to advance biomedical knowledge and enhance patient care in FY 2017. We run studies designed to improve treatments for cancer, neurological disorders, infectious disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, just to name a few; are home to the Clinical and Translational Science Center, a multi-institutional consortium; and participate in large, multicenter grants such as the national Precision Medicine Initiative All of Us. The fruits of biomedical research, combined with a developing culture of entrepreneurship at our institution, have led to the creation of twenty new start-up companies based on Weill Cornell Medicine technologies in the past four years. Many more projects are progressing on the continuum from bench to bedside.

As I continue to learn more about the individual research endeavors of our faculty and trainees, I am repeatedly impressed by the ingenuity, passion, and dedication of our investigators. Our research enterprise is strong and growing, a source of pride and something to be protected.

I am hopeful that Congress will set aside the administration's NIH budget proposals for a more sensible approach. To aid that process, I would encourage members of our community to make their voices heard and to communicate the importance of research for patients, for academic medicine, and for our country.


Augustine M.K. Choi, MD

Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean
Weill Cornell Medicine