Senate FY 2014 National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Funding Bill

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Publication date: 
15 July 2013

Late last week the Senate Appropriations Committee passed S. 1284, the FY 2014 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill.  Senate appropriators have approved six of the twelve FY 2014 bills, although none of have reached the Senate floor.
Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) spoke of the $44 billion difference in the allocations for the Senate and House versions of this bill, explaining that the House level is equal to that of the 2002 appropriation.  “We continue to disagree on our topline funding level,” she said, noting the possibility that Senate floor action on the FY 2014 bills will be blocked without an agreement. 

In her remarks, Mikulski spoke of the importance of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and early childhood education, explaining that she gave the subcommittee writing this bill, headed by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a robust allocation so that it could provide the Administration’s request for NIH.  Citing falling death rates for cancer and HIV/AIDS, Mikulski said “These medical breakthroughs didn’t just happen, they occurred because this Committee supported NIH, and the NIH supported dedicated scientists who sought knowledge and medical breakthroughs. We must keep up this support.”

National Institutes of Health:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction of approximately 5 percent) is $30,639.7 million
The FY 2014 request is $31,093.8 million, an increase of $454.1 million or 1.5 percent
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommendation is $30,946.8 million, an increase of $307.1 million or 1.0 percent

The report accompanying the bill stated:

“The mission of NIH is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and then to apply that knowledge to enhance human health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.  No other entity in the world has performed that mission so successfully.

“Yet there are signs that other countries are beginning to close the gap.  While China and India are investing heavily in biomedical research, NIH funding has dropped significantly, in real terms, since the end of the 5-year doubling in fiscal year 2003. An investigator’s chance of winning an NIH grant has fallen from approximately 3 in 10 a decade ago to roughly 1 in 6 today. At a time when the promise for medical advances has never been greater, the Nation cannot afford to lose any more ground in the life sciences.”

Under the section in this report entitled Office of the Director is the following:

“Basic Research. -- The Committee urges the Director to maintain the NIH’s current focus on the funding of basic biomedical research. The purpose of basic research is to discover the nature and mechanics of disease and identify potential therapeutic avenues likely to lead to the prevention and treatment of human disease. Without this early scientific investigation, future development of treatments and cures would be impossible.”

Also in this section:

“BRAIN Initiative. -- The Committee strongly commends NIH for leading the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies [BRAIN] Initiative, a multi-agency effort that also involves the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as well as several private sector partners. Numerous researchers are already working to accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will help explain how the brain records, processes, uses, stores, and retrieves information. The BRAIN Initiative will help catalyze and integrate these efforts. The Committee understands that this work may take decades before it results in cures or treatments, but could eventually help unlock the secrets behind diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. The President’s budget requests $40,000,000 for this initiative in fiscal year 2014, to be pooled from several ICs [Institute and Centers] and the OD [Office of the Director]. The Committee supports that amount as an initial investment but awaits more detailed budget projections for future years.”

Within NIH is the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.  The report contained no language about NIBIB.

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction of approximately 5 percent) is $337.7 million
The FY 2014 request is $338.9 million, an increase of $1.2 million or 0.4 percent
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommendation is $337.7 million, which is level funding with the FY 2013 budget