The National Institutes of Health says important medical research into new cancer drugs, better flu vaccines and other ailments will be delayed if Congress can't avert impending spending cuts.
NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told The Associated Press that, "All diseases will feel the consequences, I'm afraid."
The NIH is the leading funder of biomedical research. Collins said it stands to lose $1.6 billion this year, about 5 percent of its budget, under automatic cuts set to take effect next month.
That means hundreds of new projects around the country would go without money, and multi-year projects that already are under way may be scaled back.
Collins said the ripple effect is that about 20,000 jobs nationwide could be lost in university and other research laboratories.