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Federal budget cuts could impact UND research

Early budget proposals released by the White House could impact the flow of research dollars to UND's medical science wing.

Under President Donald Trump's preliminary federal budget, the National Institutes of Health would absorb a funding cut of $5.8 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, an overall decrease of almost 20 percent of the organization's roughly $31 billion budget for 2016. Though presidential budget proposals seldom go through Congress without major rewrites, the potential loss of funding for the NIH, itself an entity within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, could have significant trickle-down effects in higher education.

The NIH is a major provider of grants for medical and biological research and annually directs about 80 percent of its budget to researchers at more than 2,500 institutions. The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences is one of them.

According to a university news release, the SMHS received more than $12 million from the NIH last year. Dr. Joshua Wynne, the dean of the school, stated in the release that about 25 percent of the school's total budget is sourced from sponsored funding, which primarily comes from federal entities. Of those federal dollars, Wynne said, the NIH is the single-largest contributor.

If the major streams provided by the health organization were to be jeopardized, he said, "it would be a major impediment to our research enterprise."

Potential cuts to the NIH are just one area outlined in Trump's budget proposals. Another key item in the budget includes a military spending boost of $54 billion, an infusion UND President Mark Kennedy has said could result in new or increased research opportunities in unmanned aerial systems and other campus specialty areas.

Grant McGimpsey, UND's vice president for research and economic development, has said the university's research funding levels have been steadily increasing over the past few years. McGimpsey said UND extended more than $100 million in research grant funding last year, most of which came from federal agencies.

Other news

• Mary Holz-Clause, Ph.D., has been named chancellor of the University of Minnesota-Crookston. Dr. Holz-Clause will start as chancellor June 30 pending approval by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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