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President Requests 2.6 Percent NIH Budget Increase in 2005

President Bush's budget request for NIH in fiscal year 2005, announced Feb. 2, increases the FY 2004 level by 2.6 percent (or $729 million), totaling $28.757 billion, up from $28.028 billion in the current fiscal year.

Emphases within the new budget include increased funding for the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, announced last fall by NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni; new focus on chronic (versus acute) medical conditions; expansion of an initiative begun last year to address the nation's widening obesity epidemic; attention to health disparities; and measures to counter both bioterrorism and such infectious diseases as SARS, West Nile virus, influenza, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

The number of competing research project grants (RPGs) rises to 10,393, or 258 more than the 2004 level. The total number of RPGs (not counting small business innovation research and small business technology transfer grants) would be 37,744 under Bush's request.

The Roadmap initiatives are slated to receive an increase of $109 million over the 2004 level, rising to a total of $237 million; this total arises from a $60 million contribution from the NIH Director's Discretionary Fund, and $177 million contributed by the 27 NIH institutes and centers. (The IC contributions represent 0.63 percent of each individual budget request for FY 2005.) The three arms of the Roadmap each gain more generous funding: New Pathways to Discovery ($137 million); Multidisciplinary Research Teams of the Future ($39 million); and Re-engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise ($61 million).

An obesity research task force has been created at NIH to develop a strategic plan for NIH obesity research. The 2005 budget includes $22 million for expanded trans-NIH research programs in obesity and diabetes. NIH's overall obesity research portfolio would rise $40 million to a total of $440 million.

In the field of biodefense, the budget calls for a number of Regional Centers of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research. The centers are to coordinate extramural research in the field, and will include containment laboratories at both BSL-3 and BSL-4 levels. The budget request anticipates clinical trials of vaccine candidates against plague, Ebola and tularemia.

The AIDS research program is to increase by 2.8 percent ($80 million) to a total of $2.93 billion.

NCI is slated to receive $8 million specifically to undertake repairs and improvements at its Frederick campus.

NIH is also asked to develop radiological and nuclear countermeasures, an effort budgeted at $47.4 million (the funds would come from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund). Three kinds of medical intervention are sought: drugs to prevent injury from radiological exposure; improved methods of measuring exposure and contamination; and treatments aimed at restoring injured tissues and eliminating radioactive materials from contaminated tissues.

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