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FY 2012 NIH Budget Includes $577M for NCATS

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – With the signing of a large spending bill late last week, the Obama Administration has enacted a budget for this fiscal year that includes a 1 percent funding increase for the National Institutes of Health.

The budget, which was passed by Congress a week earlier, provides $30.7 billion to NIH for FY 2012, a $300 million increase over funding for 2011. It also includes $576.5 million to fund the new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), as well as $513.8 million to fund the National Human Genome Research Institute.

The arrival of NCATS this year will result in the departure of the National Center for Research Resources, although the programs and initiatives NCRR managed will continue to exist in other institutes, several at NCATS. The push to create a new institute that will focus on advancing translational research projects and moving basic research findings into applied innovations was led and championed primarily by NIH Director Francis Collins, who said in a statement on Friday that the center "marks a major milestone in mobilizing the community effort required to revolutionize the science of translation."

"Patients suffering from debilitating and life-threatening diseases do not have the luxury to wait the 13 years it currently takes to translate new scientific discoveries into treatments that could save or improve the quality of their lives. The entire community must work together to forge a new paradigm, and NCATS aims to catalyze this effort," Collins added.

According to the Office of the Director, NIH currently is conducting a reorganization effort of its preclinical and translational science capabilities and is seeking a director to run the new center. Until a director is named, NCATs will be led by Acting Director Thomas Insel, who currently is director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Acting Deputy Director Kathy Hudson, who is NIH's deputy director for science, outreach, and policy.

The largest program at NCATS will be the Clinical and Translational Science Awards, which fund a national consortium of medical research institutions and will receive $487.8 million of the new institute's budget.

NCATS also will be home to several other programs including the Cures Acceleration Network; components of the Molecular Libraries program, an initiative that provides access to the large-scale screening capacity for identifying new compounds for use as probes to validate new therapeutic targets; the Office of Rare Diseases Research; the Food and Drug Administration – NIH Regulatory Science program, which seeks to accelerate the development of better tools, standards, and approaches for evaluatimg diagnostic and therapeutic products; and the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases initiative, among others.

The funding levels for other NIH agencies in the spending bill include $5.1 billion for the National Cancer Institute; $338.9 million for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering; $4.5 billion for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and $2.4 billion to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The Obama Administration had sought a budget of $32 billion for NIH, and in testimony in May Collins urged Congress to consider NIH's appropriation in light of recent biomedical advances, such as the initial efforts to use genome sequencing in the clinic to treat patients, and to view NIH funding as a way of supporting US jobs, including 488,000 jobs in research and spin-off employment in 2010.

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