Nurse Floreliz Mendoza holds the syringe containing an experimental Zika vaccine as part of a clinical trial at the National Institute of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., last November. (Allison Shelley/For The Washington Post)

Regarding the March 17 news article “Science and medicine leaders say Trump budget would be dire for U.S.”:

The Trump administration plans to reduce the National Institutes of Health’s budget by $6 billion, to $25.9 billion next year, a cut of nearly 20 percent. The vast majority of NIH’s budget funds grants that support hundreds of thousands of researchers and scientists in universities and institutes around the United States.

As a scientist who has conducted NIH-funded research for more than 30 years, I have seen cuts in the NIH budget before (though never of this size) and can attest to the demoralizing and destructive effects that they will have. They will put thousands of scientists and their staff members out of work, with substantial secondary effects on their communities. They will drive young people interested in scientific careers to other career paths. They will slow new medical discoveries that could significantly improve the health of Americans. Furthermore, they will undermine a policy of “America First” by impeding the development of new biotechnology in this country, allowing other nations to overtake us in this important and growing industry. Is this really the future our president wants?

Robert J. Bloch, Pikesville, Md.