Science & Technology Policy Forum

In this post, I report on my attendance at an excellent Annual AAAS Forum  on Science & Technology Policy held on March 27th in Washington, DC.

Very interesting presentations included ones on federal agency priorities by NIH Director Francis Collins and NSF Director France Córdova. While most everyone at the Forum was worried about the coming administration’s funding for R&D, several exciting initiatives were discussed such as NSF’s idea for “Harnessing Data for 21st Century Science and Engineering” and “Shaping the Human-Technology Frontier”, of particular interest to SIGAI (see a detailed description). Likewise, NIH is embarking on their “All of Us” research program aimed at extending precision medicine to all diseases.

Back to the concern about government support for science & technology funding, Matt Hourihan, who runs the R&D Budget and Policy Program at AAAS, gave preliminary perspectives on the next federal budget’s impact on R&D. See an interview with Matt.

He compared the responses by Congress in previous administrations; for example, bipartisan pushback on efforts to reduce NIH budgets. He also discussed the relative emphasis in administrations on applied vs. basic research funding in non-defense spending, and the possibility of reducing applied funding in the next budget. Key slides and details from his presentation are available.

Supporting articles, with great charts and major insights, are
The Trump Administration’s Science Budget: Toughest Since Apollo?
“In fact, there’s a strong argument to be made that the first Trump Administration budget is the toughest of the post-Apollo era for science and technology, even with substantial information gaps still to be filled in.”
First Trump Budget Proposes Massive Cuts to Several Science Agencies
While still waiting for details, “the picture that does emerge so far is one of an Administration seeking to substantially scale back the size of the federal science and technology enterprise nearly across the board – in some cases, through agency-level cuts not seen in decades.”

One more highlight was the luncheon talk by Cori Bargmann, President of Science for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, on long-term funding for advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity.

Stay tuned as the R&D budget evolves!

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