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Congress Passes NIH, NSF Funding

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Congress has passed a spending bill for fiscal year 2010 that would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health by around 2.3 percent over 2009 to $31.2 billion, including an increase of 2.7 percent for the National Human Genome Research Institute to $516 million.

The Consolidated FY 2010 Appropriations Act, which passed in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate and was approved through an agreement in a conference between the two houses over the past week, also provides funding for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

According to projections released early in 2009 from NIH's Office of the Director, biomedical inflation is expected to be up around 3.8 percent for the year. So, the NIH appropriation may not represent an actual increase when it is compared against inflation.

All of the appropriations in the White House and in Congress' budgets for NIH, however, were written under the shadow of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which granted $10 billion to NIH, and specifically appropriated funding for cancer research.

For NIH, the $31.2 billion is an increase of $692 million over the 2009 funding, and it is around $260 million more than the amount sought by the White House in its proposed budget.

The bill gives the NSF $6.9 billion, which is 7 percent, or $436 million, more than what it received in 2009.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is set to receive $856.6 million, an increase of $37.6 million over 2009. The NIST increase includes $70 million marked for funding high-risk, high-reward research into "areas of critical national need," according to the Office of the Speaker of the House. It also includes $125 million for small and mid-sized manufacturers to compete globally by providing technical advice, access to technology, and leveraging private funds for job creation.

The NIH appropriation will give $5.1 billion for the National Cancer Institute, in increase of $134 million, or 2.7 percent, over last fiscal year.

NIH also would get $4.8 billion for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, up 2.5 percent from last year, and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute would receive $3.1 billion, also up 2.5 percent, over fiscal 2009.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences would receive $2.1 billion and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development would receive $1.3 billion, both 2.7 percent increases over the past year. The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering was marked for $317 million and the National Library of Medicine would receive $340 million, both 2.7 percent increases.

However, NIH would see a drop of 20 percent in funding for its building and facilities funds to $100 million, and a dip of 5.6 percent in funding for the Office of the Director.

The National Center for Research Resources would see a 3.5 percent increase in support over last year to $1.3 billion.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which advocates for biomedical funding, said today that the bill, when combined with the ARRA stimulus support, "will sustain the pace of research, support young investigators, and allow for the dissemination of research findings to patients and their families, health care providers, and the general public."

"However, we are at risk of losing the momentum generated by ARRA if a sustainable path forward is not provided in post-ARRA budgets," FASEB President Mark Lively said, suggesting that "research projects will be halted and jobs will be lost."

"Furthermore, productive careers will be cut short, and critical scientific opportunities will be missed," he added.

While not criticizing the 2010 budget directly, Lively said that in looking to 2011, "we must maintain our newly expanded research capacity and take advantage of the opportunities created by ARRA."

The appropriations bill now awaits consideration by the White House.

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