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Why a Cut?

Kenneth Anderson, the president of the American Society of Hematology, writes in an opinion piece at Stat News that most politicians in the US agree that a well-funded National Institutes of Health leads to healthy people and a robust economy, leading him to wonder why the Trump administration wants to cut the agency's funding.

The administration has proposed decreasing the NIH budget by some 18 percent, or about $6 billion. This includes a $1 billion cut to National Cancer Institute budget, a $575 million decrease in National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funding, and an $838 million cut to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases budget.

Anderson, who is also a hematologic oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, notes that the administration has argued that decreased regulation of pharmaceutical companies would enable them to develop therapies more quickly and plug the gap created by such an NIH budget cut. However, he points out that pharmaceutical company executives and university have said that academic research is needed to underpin the work industry does.

"Compromising this support for the NIH puts at risk our ability to find solutions to the health problems that plague Americans, disrupts an important part of the economy, and impedes a future generation of scientists from entering the field of medical research," Anderson writes.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.