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FYI Number 75: July 19, 2007

House Appropriators Recommend 2.2% Increase for NIBIB

The House Appropriations Committee has recommended a 2.2 percent increase in the FY 2008 budget for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). This increase is slightly less than the level in the Senate bill, but greater than that requested by the Bush Administration.

The House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. David Obey (D-WI); the Ranking Member is James Walsh (R-NY). The NIBIB figures are as follows:

The FY 2007 NIBIB budget is $296.9 million.
The Administration requested $300.5 million, an increase of 1.2 percent or $3.6 million.
The Senate bill would provide an increase of 2.5 percent or $7.4 million, to $304.3 million.
The House bill would provide an increase of 2.2 percent or $6.4 million, to $303.3 million.

House Report 110-231 accompanying H.R. 3043 has only a brief description about NIBIB. There is extensive language about the difficulties that universities and both young and senior researchers have encountered as NIH funding has "languished" since the doubling of its budget in FY 2003 that is worthwhile reading for all researchers. Below is the NIBIB report language, followed by language describing how the committee "hopes to stop the funding rollercoaster" for NIH, and additional report language on "Bridging the Sciences."

NIBIB:

"Mission.—The NIBIB mission is to improve human health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the engineering and physical sciences with the life sciences to advance basic research and medical care."

The Senate Committee report contained specific policy recommendations; see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/069.html

NIH FUNDING:

"ADVANCING BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH

"The knowledge foundation that underlies the treatments provided by virtually every doctor in the nation is the result of advances in biomedical research conducted in large part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In fiscal year 1999, Congress made a commitment to double the NIH budget over five years in order to capitalize on scientific advances so that they could be translated into treatment and cures for debilitating diseases like Parkinson’s, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. This investment has helped NIH to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people’s health and save lives. For example, the first map of the human genome has been completed, much more is known about the links between genetics, molecular processes and imaging.

"Since the completion of the doubling period, however, Congress has reversed direction. The NIH enterprise has languished with inadequate budget increases since fiscal year 2003, and even received a funding cut in fiscal year 2006, the first cut in 36 years. As a result of shrinking resources in real terms, young researchers drawn to the field during the expansion and even their senior mentors are now seeing their research applications being rejected. Universities who have made investments in their research enterprise now wonder if they took on a bad risk.

"The Committee has made the difficult choices necessary to provide a $750,000,000 increase over fiscal year 2007 for NIH. This level is $1,028,646,000, over the President’s request and the largest increase in four years. The Committee hopes to put NIH on a path of stable, sustainable funding rather than the feast or famine approach of the last decade.

"The sizeable investment the Committee makes in biomedical research for fiscal year 2008 will accomplish a number of important goals. First, it will increase the number of new and competing research grants by approximately 545 new grants over last year for a total of 10,666. Total new and continuing grants will rise to 39,003. The Committee also funds a two percent increase in the average cost of new research grants, which has been frozen for two years."

"As described in the 'Advancing Biomedical Research' initiative in the front of the report, the Committee has made difficult choices in order to provide a $750,000,000 increase for biomedical research supported by NIH. The Committee hopes to stop the funding rollercoaster NIH has experienced during the past decade and provide a substantial and sustainable growth path for the future.

"The funding level recommended by the Committee would provide 10,666 new and competing grants, an increase of 545 over fiscal year 2007. The number of total grants would rise to 39,003. The recommendation would also reverse the two-year freeze in the inflationary adjustment of grants, with an average two percent increase for new grants. The recommendation is attentive to the pipeline issue, providing funding for three programs to support young investigators as well as a two percent average increase in research training stipends."

"OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR
Multi-institute research issues

"Bridging the sciences.—The Committee believes the 'Bridging the Sciences'’ demonstration program fulfills a need not met elsewhere in the Federal government by supporting research at the interface between the biological, behavioral, and social sciences with the physical, chemical, mathematical, and computational sciences. The Committee encourages the Director to give high priority to developing a demonstration program and to collaborate with the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies. The Committee notes the importance of compliance with the statutory provisions dealing with appropriate, multidisciplinary peer review panels and the unique type of research envisioned."

The House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 3043 today, clearing the way for an eventual conference with the Senate to settle on a final version of this bill. While passage of the final bill is almost a certainty, the outlook for its enactment is much less so. In an OMB Statement of Administration policy issued yesterday, the House bill was criticized for its "irresponsible and excessive level of spending." The $607 billion funding level for this bill is 1.8 percent higher than the President's request. Because of this funding level, and the Administration's complaint that total FY 2008 spending is greater than the President's "top line" figure, the Statement warned, "if H.R. 3043 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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