FY 2016 House Appropriations Bill: NIBIB and NIH

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Publication date: 
25 June 2015

House appropriators have approved the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Bill.   Yesterday’s action by the full Appropriations Committee marks the first time in six years that this bill has been approved and sent to the House floor.

The $154,536.0 million bill provides funding for a wide range of programs, including the National Institutes of Health and its National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.  Total discretionary funding in the bill is $3,711.0 million below the current year, and approximately 9 percent below the Administration’s request. 

An introductory section of the committee’s 263-page report accompanying this bill, under Setting Priorities, states:  

Protecting Public Health and Biomedical Research

“Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funded at $100,000,000 above the budget request, to a total of $31,184,000,000 in the Committee bill, reflecting the Committee’s ongoing emphasis on biomedical research that can lead to lifesaving cures. Within the funds, the Committee supports research into Alzheimer’s disease and the precision medicine initiative.” (p. 4)

A later section explains:

“Heavy Ion Cancer Therapy and Research—The Committee understands NCI recently issued a planning grant for a Heavy Ion Therapy and Research. The Committee encourages NCI to coordinate with other federal agencies on the need and potential funding sources in determining the scientific justification to move forward or retrofit any existing facilities.” (p. 58)

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $330.2 million
The FY 2016 request is $337.3 million, an increase of $7.1 million or 2.2 percent
The House bill recommends $338.4 million, an increase of $8.2 million or 2.5 percent

Page 69 of the report notes:

“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 Committee expects the Institute to systematically coordinate through other HHS agencies to share new scientific information to ensure it reaches the community and providers through various other HHS outreach programs.”


Appropriators provided their recommendations and guidance in other sections of their report regarding NIH’s operations.  Of note:

Reproducibility of Scientific Methods.—The Committee notes that the gold standard of good science is the ability of a lab to reproduce a method and finding and is therefore continues to be concerned with reports that some published biomedical research cannot be easily reproduced. The Committee expects NIH to continue to stress the importance of experimental rigor and transparency of reporting of research findings in order to enhance the ability of others to replicate them. The Committee requests an update in the fiscal year 2017 budget request on how NIH is measuring the effectiveness of each step NIH has taken to develop and implement best practice guidelines to better facilitate the conduct of replicable research and research transparency in the reporting of methods and findings.” (p. 77)

Prioritization of Funding.—The Committee expects NIH to prioritize federal funds for medical research on discovery over outreach and education. The Committee expects NIH to distribute funding based on the merit of researchers ideas and productivity, without applying discriminatory review requirements to extramural investigations, or creating barriers to funding for research institutes or team-based research. The Committee reiterates its desire for NIH to subject intramural resources to the same policies and review as extramural researchers. Further, NIH is expected to complete and actively use the NIH 5-year scientific strategic plan, directed in the fiscal year 2016 Appropriations Act, to prioritize funding. The Committee expects NIH to allocate resources through a meritoriously based competitive peer review process to best target resources to diseases with the significant opportunity to improve the current or future health of the American population.” (p. 79)

Young Investigators.—The Committee directs NIH to report on actions it has taken to lower the median age at which investigators receive their first R01 awards within 120 days of enactment. In addition, the NIH shall submit an accompanying plan outlining concrete steps to lower the median age at which individuals receive their first R01 award. The Committee urges NIH to convene a working group of stakeholders from academia, young researchers, industry leaders, and government officials to move forward on this goal.” (p. 80)

NIH states a R01 grant is “To support a discrete, specified, circumscribed project to be performed by the named investigator(s) in an area representing his or her specific interest and competencies.”