David Nather Mar 16, 2017
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Budget preview: Trump wants huge NIH cuts

New bombshell this morning: The National Institutes of Health would get a $5.8 billion funding cut in Trump's first budget — about 19 percent of its budget, per the Washington Post. That's after two years of Congress pushing for big increases.

And that's after Trump made a big issue of supporting research into new cures in his speech to Congress last month. Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney didn't tip his hand at a press briefing yesterday — he acknowledged that federal funding is needed for research into rare diseases," and our budget preserves the ability to do exactly that."

But NIH supporters in Congress have been warning that funding cuts are a real possibility. The agency got a $2 billion increase in December 2015, the biggest funding boost in a dozen years. And last year, STAT reported (oh wait, that's me!) that appropriators were looking at another $2 billion increase for the coming year. Congress hasn't finished its work on that funding package yet.

The bottom line: It's part of a 23 percent cut in overall discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, Bloomberg reports.

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The worst flu season in eight years

Note: Activity levels are based on outpatient visits in a state compared to the average number of visits that occur during weeks with little or no flu virus circulation; Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

This year's flu season caught many experts off guard with both its sustained prevalence and its virulence. At its peak, there was a higher level of flu-like illnesses reported than any other year during the past eight years. Watch in the visual as it hits its peak around Week 18.

Why it matters: Public health officials try to capture this data when developing the next year's vaccines. And, of course, they want to find better ways to prevent severe flu seasons. There's a "Strategic Plan" to develop a universal vaccine to protect against a wider range of influenza viruses, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Axios.

Shannon Vavra 1 hour ago
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What it's like to negotiate with North Korea

Cups and a weapon.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

President Trump may find himself in a difficult position as soon as he sits down with Kim Jong-un, according to Jim Walsh, who has been in the room for previous talks and says North Korea’s first pitch is often a curveball.

“I’ve been in settings [in which they] set it at the top of the meeting, ‘we’re not going to talk about denuclearization,’" Walsh told Axios. "People on the other side say ‘why the hell are we meeting?’”