ASM Requests Increased Funding for NSF, Increased Coordination of Microbiome Research

April 18, 2023

ASM submitted the following outside witness testimony to both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.

Testimony Prepared by the American Society for Microbiology
Submitted for the record to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

April 18, 2023

Submitted on behalf of: Allen Segal, Chief Advocacy Officer
American Society for Microbiology, 1752 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) appreciates the opportunity to submit outside witness testimony for the Fiscal Year 2024 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill in support of increased funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and increased coordination of microbiome research by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). ASM is one of the oldest and largest life science societies with 30,000 members in the U.S. and around the world. Our mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences, including programs and initiatives funded by federal government departments and agencies, by virtue of the integral role microorganisms play in human health and society. Microbial science is a multidisciplinary endeavor, and our members’ federally funded research is fundamental to advances in human health, agriculture, energy, and the environment. For FY2024, ASM recommends the following:

Provide at least $11.9 billion for the National Science Foundation in Fiscal Year 2024 and urges the Office of Science and Technology Policy to implement FY2022 CJS Appropriations report language on the microbiome and revisit the Interagency Strategic Plan for Microbiome Research. 

NSF funding is critical to ensure our scientific workforce is prepared to lead the world in the emerging technologies that are key to our health, safety and security. ASM was pleased to see the bi-partisan CHIPS and Science Act authorized $15.7 billion for the NSF in FY2024 and helps to address various STEM initiatives including Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act, the Bioeconomy Research and Development Act, the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act and the NSF for the Future Act. The legislation also directs federal agencies to support research in core areas of interest identified in ASM’s policy principles:
  • Bioenergy, bioproducts and new energy technologies.
  • Research to combat the climate crisis.
  • Foundational functional systems biology research.
  • Microbiome and microbial communities.
  • The development of a national genomic sequencing strategy.
The CHIPS and Science Act also addresses growing workforce gaps in emerging technology areas by expanding its efforts in STEM education and broadening participation programs; and advance many priorities in foundational research and infrastructure programs. NSF is well prepared to take on the enhanced competitiveness mission envisioned in congressional innovation legislation and ramp up its investments in critical science and technology areas. 

Prior to the enactment of the CHIPS and Science Act, NSF was unable to fund more than $2 billion worth of research proposals rated “very good or higher” each fiscal year. It is imperative that the rest of NSF see sustainable growth. New efforts can only be successful when built on a strong foundational research enterprise that supports research, education and infrastructure to sustain our science and technology ecosystem.

The NSF is a key supporter of microbiology research, including foundational research supporting ecosystems and biodiversity, mapping the microbiome and discovering emerging pathogens. NSF-funded researchers across the country are working to improve lives through research on human and animal health, agriculture, energy, the environment and biothreats. NSF funding is key to cultivating a diverse and inclusive scientific workforce that is prepared for future challenges and discoveries. The CHIPS and Science Act will build research capacity through grants at institutions that primarily serve students who are underrepresented in science and will ramp up investment in academic institutions in states and territories that receive less federal research funding.

Fundamental research supported by NSF will enable new discoveries and solutions using biotechnology to promote the bioeconomy, forecasting and mitigating the impacts of global warming on essential ecosystem services and predicting and preventing the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. Basic research funded by NSF advances our understanding of the 70% of emerging human pathogens that have non-human origins, which pose serious threats to human health and global health security. To continue to achieve its goals, it is critical that the FY2024 appropriations bill robustly fund NSF.

Urge the Office of Science and Technology Policy to Revisit the Interagency Strategic Plan for Microbiome Research. 

ASM is grateful to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for including requested language in FY2022 report language that asks OSTP to review the Interagency Strategic Plan for Microbiome Research, to evaluate the progress made, consider whether the Federal investment has been adequate to fully realize the promise of this initiative and begin the process to develop a strategic plan for interagency collaboration in this essential research for the next 5 years. We request the Committee to obtain an update from the National Science and Technology Council on the implementation of the Interagency Strategic Plan for Microbiome Research, which was developed by the Microbiome Interagency Working Group, and in particular, any proposal for the continuation of the plan at its completion in 2022. The Committee encourages OSTP to prioritize leveraging the National Microbiome Data Collaborative at the Department of Energy to ensure cross-agency collaboration and integration of microbiome datasets.

ASM is particularly grateful to Congress for increasing investment in the NSF in recent years. In FY2024, we urge Congress to revisit OSTP’s past commitment to microbiome research and to increase funding for NSF to $11.9 billion. We thank you for your continued support for microbe-powered innovation. 

Author: ASM Advocacy

ASM Advocacy
ASM Advocacy is making it easy and providing opportunities for members to advocate for evidence-based scientific policy.