Trump budget would limit NIH grant recipients' spending on admin, IT

A cap could be placed on what “indirect” medical research costs can be covered by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, which researchers warn could “disembowel” their institutions.

As reported by The Atlantic, the Trump administration’s full budget, due out next week, could include a 10 percent cap on overhead costs like administration, equipment, libraries, IT, lighting, heating, electricity. HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, has said such costs are evidence of “inefficiencies” in NIH, with some universities spending up to 85 percent of their grants on those costs, which are negotiated with the agency.

Those in the research field, however, say many of the costs aren’t optional and grants don’t always fund what it takes to keep labs and research facilities running.

“We could find efficiencies,” said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, a non-profit that advocates for biomedical research, “but you’re not looking for efficiencies when you say we’ll cut off three or four of your appendages.”

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