Last year, Congress passed a bill establishing, within the National
Institutes of Health, a new National Institute of Biomedical Imaging
and Bioengineering (NIBIB). The new institute received start-up funding
of $2 million last year, and this year received a healthy increase to
$112 million in the recently- passed FY 2002 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations
bill. President Bush requested $40 million in FY 2002 funding for the
NIBIB. According to reports, the final figure of $112 million includes
approximately $40 million in new money, and the rest is funding that
was already designated for imaging or bioengineering use in other institutes
and will be transferred to the NIBIB.
The act establishing the NIBIB stated that "Basic research in
imaging, bioengineering, computer science, informatics, and related
fields is critical to improving health care but is fundamentally different
from the research in molecular biology on which the current national
research institutes at the National Institutes of Health ('NIH') are
based. To ensure the development of new techniques and technologies
for the 21st century, these disciplines therefore require an identity
and research home at the NIH that is independent of the existing institute
In their version of an FY 2002 funding bill for the institutes, House
appropriators would have provided $40.0 million, equal to the request.
Senate appropriators recommended transferring some funds from other
institutes, and proposed total funding for the NIBIB of $140.0 million.
Ultimately, the House-Senate conferees reached agreement at $112.0 million.
They also supported formation of a task force to review current grants
that fund bioengineering and imaging throughout the NIH, and identify
those grants that ought to be transferred to the new institute.
Language from the Labor-HHS-Education conference report (H. Rept. 107-342)
pertaining to the NIBIB is quoted below:
"NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BIOMEDICAL IMAGING AND BIOENGINEERING
"The conference agreement includes $111,984,000 for
the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering instead
of $39,896,000 as proposed by the House and $140,000,000 as proposed
by the Senate.
"The conferees commend NIH for agreeing to establish
a task force comprising both NIH staff and representatives of the
extramural research community to review all current imaging and bioengineering
grants and identify those that are appropriate for transfer to the
newly-established National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
(NIBIB). Toward that end, the conferees support the agreement to create
a nine-member task force that includes representatives of NIH (three
members), the extramural imaging community (three members), and the
bioengineering community (three members), with representatives of
the outside groups to be appointed by the appropriate professional
organizations in those fields. The conferees direct the task force
to establish criteria to be applied consistently to all grants under
consideration. The conferees urge that these criteria ensure that
research projects with applications to multiple disease processes
or organ systems should generally reside in NIBIB in accordance with
the intent of Congress in creating the new Institute. The Director
of the NIH shall submit a report on the findings of the task force
to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees by March 31, 2002.
"While the conferees are pleased that progress has been
achieved in implementing the legislation that created NIBIB, they
have been concerned that the amount of research grants proposed by
the NIH for transfer to the new Institute falls short of previous
assessments of NIH support for basic biomedical imaging and bioengineering
as expressed in NIH statements to the Congress. Creation of the joint
NIH-extramural task force should help to ensure that all parties have
confidence in the process."
Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics