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NIH Gets Second Major Budget Boost in Row

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President Clinton signed an omnibus budget bill on Nov. 29 that gives NIH its second record-breaking budget increase in a row. The FY 2000 appropriation for NIH is $17,913,470,000, an increase of more than $2.3 billion from FY 1999, and about $1.98 billion more than the President's budget, which called for a 2 percent increase for the agency. The 14.9 percent boost for FY 2000 matches the 14.9 increase realized in FY 1999, which represented NIH's biggest dollar increase ever.

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However, the bill includes $3 billion in delayed obligations, not available until Sept. 29, 2000, and an across-the-board budget cut of 0.38 percent; NIH is among the agencies affected by this reduction but will have flexibility in applying the cut, with no program to be trimmed by more than 15 percent. According to Sue Quantius, NIH associate director for budget, NIH's share of the budget cut is in the range of 0.55 percent, or a reduction of some $98 million.

The bill will result in budget increases at all of NIH's 24 institutes and centers, as well as the Office of the Director. It will also boost to nearly 10,000 the number of new and competing research project grants supported in FY 2000. The National Cancer Institute, NIH's largest, will get an increase of 14.8 percent to $3.3 billion, while NHLBI, the second largest institute, will realize a gain of 14.5 percent to a total of $2 billion. The National Human Genome Research Institute budget is set to rise by 25.4 percent, to a total of $337 million, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine gets a 37.5 percent increase to $69 million. The Office of AIDS Research, part of the Office of the Director, gets $44.953 million and the Foundation for NIH is set to receive $500,000.

The omnibus bill directs NIH to transfer $20 million from NIAID to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by Jan. 15, 2000, for study of the safety and efficacy of vaccines used against agents of biological terror. NIH must also set aside $20 million for a new program of challenge grants — to be funded by the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund — to promote joint ventures between NIH and the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries; the program is to be on a one-for-one matching basis to qualified organizations.

The National Center for Research Resources is slated to receive $75 million for extramural construction, an increase of $45 million over FY 1999. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is strongly urged to study the effects of dioxin and Agent Orange in Southeast Asia.

The bill contains a number of specific directions affecting OD:

  • Programs including Minority Access to Research Careers, Minority Biomedical Research Support, Research Centers in Minority Institutions, and the Office of Research on Minority Health programs should continue to be supported at a level commensurate with their importance.
  • NIH is encouraged to pursue research on all types of diabetes.
  • NIH is requested to develop a report to Congress by Mar. 1, 2000, outlining a research agenda for Parkinson's focused research for the next 5 years, along with professional judgment funding projections.
  • NIH is urged to establish an Office of Bio-imaging/Bioengineering and to review the feasibility of establishing an Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering. The office should coordinate imaging and bioengineering research activities, both across NIH and with other federal agencies. NIH must report on progress achieved by this office by June 30, 2000.
  • The NIH director is requested to contract with an independent group to study the overall security situation at the Bethesda campus. The study should include recommendations regarding the appropriate manpower, training and equipment needed to provide adequate security for NIH employees and all visitors to the campus as well as any recommended changes to the current security policy.
  • NIH is strongly encouraged to dedicate more resources to autism research and to intensify these efforts through the NIH autism coordinating committee.
  • The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and NIAID are commended for jointly supporting research on foodborne illness; the institutes are encouraged to enhance research on the reaction of the gut to foodborne pathogens.

The omnibus bill was signed after eight Continuing Resolutions kept unfunded federal agencies operating beyond the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year. It keeps NIH on target for a congressional effort to double the NIH budget by 2004.


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