Advocates warn automatic cuts would hit medical research

The report comes the morning after the House voted to replace automatic cuts — negotiated in last summer's debt deal and known as the "sequester" — by taking money from social programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

Research!America did not refer to the vote or the legislation, but said that if the sequester takes effect, it will leave health research "at the breaking point."

"Across-the-board cuts would severely impede medical progress and economic growth," Woolley said.

In total, the sequester would reduce budgets at health agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by $3.6 billion, the report stated.

At the NIH specifically, the sequester's 7.8 percent cut would be equal to the total amount spent on "hundreds of rare and common diseases and conditions" in 2011.

Those conditions ranged from attention deficit disorder to cerebral palsy, according to the report.

The director of the CDC, Thomas Frieden, said that "this is no time to let down our guard" on public health threats.

"Each of us depends on public health agencies to protect our food supply, guard against deadly infectious diseases, improve our chances of avoiding deadly — and costly — chronic diseases, and improve our quality of life," he said.

"An 8-10 percent reduction, on top of 50,000 front-line public health professionals already lost at the state and local levels, will risk costly and deadly spread of disease and failures to prevent tragic and expensive health problems."