Skip to main content

Rockefeller team makes case for federal research funding to senior White House officials

A meeting on bioscience, held at the White House last week with a number of President Donald J. Trump’s top advisers, provided an opportunity for leading voices in the academic, biotech, and pharmaceutical sectors to make the case for sustained, robust federal support for biomedical research.

The meeting, which took place May 8, resulted from discussions of Rockefeller University Trustee William E. Ford, CEO of General Atlantic, with White House administration officials, and was attended by him and four other members of the Rockefeller community: President Richard P. Lifton, Trustee Pablo Legorreta, CEO of Royalty Pharma, Head of Laboratory Cori Bargmann, who is also president of Chan Zuckerberg Science, and former president Marc Tessier-Lavigne, now head of Stanford University.

“The meeting provided a chance to discuss our highly successful ecosystem in which federal support for fundamental science in academia is the driver of national innovation, leading to new medicines that improve quality of life and longevity, and make major contributions to job and economic growth” Lifton says. “Biotechnology took off in this country because of U.S. leadership in federal support for science; our system is the envy of the world.”

“The message in the room was loud and clear: We need the NIH! And we need it now more than ever,” Bargmann wrote in a Facebook post after the event.

The two-hour, closed-door meeting was hosted by Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, and attended by Vice President Mike Pence; presidential advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump; Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Tom Price, secretary of health and human services; and Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Also in attendance were administration officials representing legislative affairs, domestic policy, and economic initiatives, as well as the heads of Johns Hopkins Medical School, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, and Partners Health Care, and CEOs of the biotechnology companies Celgene, Regeneron, and Vertex.

“The members of the new administration we met with were very receptive to our message, and I’m confident that a productive dialogue has begun,” Ford says.