President Donald Trump's plan to cut billions of dollars in funding to medical and scientific research agencies would cost the country countless jobs, stall medical advances and threaten America's status as the world leader in science and medicine, advocates said Thursday. “Cutting the funding in this way will have devastating and generation-long effects,” said Dr. Clifford Hudis, CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which represents cancer specialists. “[Medical research] is a fundamental driver of American economic strength and it is being compromised here,” Hudis told NBC News. “It’s a jobs program.” Multiple organizations expressed shock and disappointment at Trump’s budget proposal, which adds $54 billion in defense spending but would slash nearly $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, which funds most basic medical research in the country, as well as eliminate entirely dozens of other agencies and programs. It would cut the overall Health and Human Services department budget by 18 percent, including the 20 percent budget reduction at NIH, and reassign money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to states. Most cancer drugs get their start in the basic research funded by the NIH and often done in NIH labs. “The targeted therapies, the immunotherapies, the conventional chemotherapy drugs — all of these things have roots in the NIH,” Hudis said. One example of the discoveries the NIH and NIH-funded researchers make: Finding the cancer-killing properties of trees, or sea sponges, and developing them into compounds that are then licensed to pharmaceutical companies to develop. Companies rarely do such basic, risky research. The American Lung Association urged Congress to ignore Trump's budget blueprint and increase funding. “Congress must reject this budget and start anew with a balanced approach that protects vital health programs in HHS and at EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency),” Lung Association CEO Harold Wimmer said. American Heart Association President Steven Houser said he was shocked by the budget proposal. “I thought we were, all of us, interested in improving the health of all Americans,” he said. “We need