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FYI Number 3: January 9, 2002

FY02 Funding for Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

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 structure."

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
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3094

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