Biden Admin Sets Up New Hurdles for NIH Fearing Trump’s Possible Reform

( – The Biden administration is taking steps to make it more difficult for former President Donald Trump to reform the National Institutes of Health (NIH) if he wins re-election in November.

Scientific organizations are concerned Trump could enact reforms because, during the pandemic, he threatened to fire a top NIH official, Anthony Fauci. Though Trump could change the plans if he is re-elected, the Biden administration hopes these new steps make it harder for him to make changes.

NIH’s designated scientific integrity official, Lyric Jorgenson, stated they hope to prevent Trump from “interfering and manipulating science to hit a partisan agenda.” She said protecting the NIH, which gives health researchers over $40 billion annually, is critical so that the public can rely on the NIH to “generate rigorous, trusted evidence” that can be used “to inform public health.”

Jorgenson will be responsible for identifying any political meddling in the NIH’s work, with potential cases of meddling then being reviewed by a soon-to-be-established scientific integrity council.

The Biden administration is also calling on health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to strengthen their scientific integrity plans and ensure the research decisions are being made by nonpartisan civil servants.

However, Trump’s allies, such as Roger Severino, who, under Trump, served at the Department of Health and Human Services, noted the “NIH is ripe for drastic reform,” adding that the plans are a way to protect scientists who have a progressive ideology. Severino, who works at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said an NIH reorganization and an executive order making it easier to fire federal workers are under consideration by Trump.

Another Trump ally, Joel Zinberg, who, during Trump’s term, worked on health policy on the Council of Economic Advisers, called the NIH “an entrenched political organization.” Zinberg thinks that under a Trump administration, there would “be a push to decentralize the power” of the NIH, making “it a more democratic process.”

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