President Barack Obama warned on Monday that automatic budget cuts could threaten years of scientific research, but reiterated his commitment to such federal investments.

Obama spoke at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, saying he would protect spending on scientific and medical research during budget negotiations with republicans in Congress. Obama said the nation "cannot afford" to make sweeping budget cuts that would stall ongoing research across federal government outlays.

Obama said he would fight to protect research and development from automatic budget cuts triggered by sequestration, the law enacted last year that would cut billions from social programs and defense alike, were democrats and republicans unable to agree on a longer-term strategy to control the national deficit and debt.

Earlier this month, Matt Hourihan, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told PBS that automatic budget cuts this year would devastate scientific research in America, if allowed to happen.

"We're looking at roughly $9.5 billion ...worth of R&D cuts this year as a result of sequestration — those are cuts adding up to almost 7 percent," he said. "These are the largest cuts we have an actually seen in a single year in about 40 years."

Hourihan said sequestration would deepen cuts already made since 2010, from which federal research spending has fallen by approximately 10 percent. "We peaked at about $155 billion dollars in 2010 [and] before sequestration, we were down about 10 percent from that high water mark," he said. "So we have already seen quite a bit of belt tightening on the part of federal science agencies and research institutions who are trying to plan their own project trajectories."

President Obama said Monday he would push a plan to protect federal research spending across the government departments, some of which is spent within the U.S. Department of Defense. In 2011, for example, the Pentagon spent more than $1.1 billion on medical research — including a significant portion on cancer.

"What I want to communicate to all of you is that as long as I'm president, we're going to be committed to investing in promising ideas that are generated by you and your institutions, because they lead to innovative products, they help boost our economy, but also because that's who we are," Obama said. "I'm committed to it because that's what makes us special, and ultimately what makes life worth living."

For the full speech, visit the National Academy of Sciences website. Below is a previous speech by Obama at the Academy: