Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a group of...

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a group of Stony Brook University alumni in Manhattan on Wednesday night, April 19, at the school's fundraising gala at Chelsea Pier. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday took aim at President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut billions of dollars in federal funding for medical and environmental research, telling an audience of Stony Brook University alumni in Manhattan the cuts would put the nation “a generation behind” in developing lifesaving drugs and technology.

“This is no time to undercut our progress. This is no time to let up. It’s a time to double down. This is a time to make sure we deliver on the promise of science and technology to improve our lives,” Biden told more than 800 alumni, donors and students gathered for the school’s annual fundraising gala at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.

Biden was honored at the event for his work promoting cancer research and funding. President Barack Obama tapped Biden in his final year in office to lead the White House’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, which seeks to double the rate of progress in preventing and fighting the disease.

Biden, whose son Beau Biden, a former Delaware attorney general, died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46, said most Americans would “want to see their tax dollars spent to improve life, to extend life.”

Biden’s remarks come as the Trump administration has proposed federal budget cuts across various science-based agencies, including a $5.8 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health and a $2.6 billion cut to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The former vice president, who did not mention Trump by name during his nearly hourlong remarks, called the cuts “draconian” and said he was worried by what he described as an “anti-science” climate.

“There’s only one storm cloud on the horizon as I see it, there are those who have forgotten when you cut off research money in whatever the field is, what you end up doing is you end up cutting off an entire generation of brilliant young minds,” Biden said.

Before his speech, Biden took snapshots with dozens of students who crowded around him for a chance at a selfie with the former vice president.

Naveen Mallangada, 21, of Jericho, was among the students who met with Biden. The senior, majoring in biology, who is researching the potential of using the spice turmeric to combat pancreatic cancer, said it was “inspiring” that Biden was pushing for more cancer research.

“To have someone like Joe Biden fighting for cancer research in the long term, it’s inspiring because it shows his commitment to finding a cure in the long term,” Mallangada said.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) were among the attendees at the $750-a-plate gala that raised more than $6 million to fund cancer research and student scholarships.

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