Monday, 19 June 2017 12:48

ASM Letter to Congress Regarding Department of Energy FY 2018 Funding

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) urges Congress to reject the cuts to crucial Department of Energy (DOE) life science programs requested in the Administration’s FY 2018 DOE budget. The large reductions proposed for the DOE’s Office of Science would undermine the biology based research done by DOE funded investigators and the Office of Science’s cutting edge user facilities. The Office of Science sponsors extramural research at more than 300 universities and operates 10 of DOE’s 17 national laboratories, supporting discoveries often exclusive to the DOE portfolio.

The budget cuts requested by the Administration will weaken DOE’s basic research efforts. The Office of Science programs would receive $874 million less than FY 2016, a 16.4 percent reduction. Within the Office of Science, there would be a drastic 43 percent drop for the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program and 16 percent less for the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program, both of which support facilities and core research activities that benefit public health, the environment, local and national economies, and more.

The Administration’s budget proposes to refocus DOE programs toward early stage research and development (R&D) at the national laboratories “to advance American primacy in scientific and energy research,” achieved through “a renewed focus on cutting edge innovation.” This admirable goal would be subverted instead by the major cuts proposed for the Office of Science, which for decades has been a powerful R&D catalyst throughout the basic sciences. DOE funding has generated technological advances in genomics, nanoscience, imaging, computing and so much more. These discoveries have considerable economic and social significance, such as recent BER supported advances in the design of synthetic peptide therapeutics or whole genome studies of commercially valuable microorganisms used in biomanufacturing.

The ASM appreciates that Congress has consistently recognized the singular contributions of the Office of Science’s programs and its user facilities in advancing disciplines in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We believe that the Administration’s FY 2018 budget cuts would obstruct or eliminate entire areas of basic research at the Nation’s universities. The Office of Science’s world class research facilities, many of which provide laboratory and field capabilities not found elsewhere, would also be negatively impacted. We urge Congress to continue its strong support of the DOE Office of Science by rejecting the Administration’s excessive DOE budget cuts.


Susan Sharp, Ph.D., President, American Society for Microbiology
Stefano Bertuzzi, Ph.D., M.P.H., CEO, American Society for Microbiology
Ronald M. Atlas, Ph.D., Chair, ASM Public and Scientific Affairs Board