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FASEB Urges Greater Federal Spending on Research in 2009

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Echoing a wish that in 2008 went unfulfilled, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology has called on Capitol Hill for a boost in federal funding to the tax-backed agencies and institutes that drive research in health and medicine, agriculture, biofuels, and other biology-based endeavors.
In spite of its dismay with the flat spending allocated to the National Institutes of Health in the recently-passed 2008 federal budget, FASEB in its report, Federal Funding for Biomedical & Related Life Sciences Research, FY 2009, has asked for increased funding for the four primary agencies that support genomics and molecular biology.
The report recommends “what is necessary to reinvigorate and sustain our nation’s extraordinary research enterprise,” FASEB President Robert Palazzo said in a statement.
For FY 2009, FASEB recommends that the federal government allocate $31.2 billion to the National Institutes of Health, $7.33 billion for the National Science Foundation, $4.8 billion to the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and $1.38 billion for the Agricultural Research Service in the US Department of Agriculture.
The recommendation for funding the NIH gets the most attention in the report. Flat funding and rising biomedical inflation costs “has eroded the purchasing power of the agency” by roughly 13 percent, FASEB said, and “the United States is starting to lose ground to other nations” in almost every field of science and technology, from basic research and product development.
According to FASEB, 78 percent of Americans believe medical research is the best strategy for cutting health care costs, and 76 percent think it is “very important” that “the US remain a global leader in scientific research.”
The US faces emerging biological threats such as the MRSA, SARS, avian flu and West Nile Virus, FASEB said in the report, and the aging of the US population will present other challenges, such as Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis.
The recently-passed omnibus spending bill funds the NIH in fiscal 2008 with a total of $29.2 billion, which was around $800 million less than Congress had initially sought.

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