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NHGRI Outlines Plans for $510M in 2010 Spending

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Human Genome Research Institute plans to spend the $510 million it has requested for 2010 largely by keeping its budget priorities in line with what it plans for this year, with increases spread out to meet inflation and some adjustments made to account for other changes, such as new technologies and medical priorities like cancer.

The budget for 2009 is expected to be $502.4 million, and the 2010 proposal is around a $1.4 percent increase.

The funding plan includes increases in some areas, and cuts in others, with major changes primarily affecting the Cancer Genome Atlas, which would get a $5 million boost, and the large scale non-medical sequencing program, which is marked to lose $10 million to account for distribution of sequencing activities.

NHGRI's budget plan, which is included in the White House Fiscal 2010 budget request, includes an increase of around $7 million over the expected fiscal 2009 total budget. The Obama Administration's budget was presented to Congress last week, and asks for $30.8 billion in total for all of the National Institutes of Health.

About 30 percent of NHGRI's budget, or $154 million, would go to research project grants, and approximately 40 percent, or $201 million, is marked for the research centers.

Of that money, it includes increases of around $2 million for research project grants, a $3 million increase for funding of research centers, a $5 million increase in total research grants, and a $1.2 million cut in funding for administrative supplements.

Research Project Grants will tally $154 million, which would fund a total of 271 grants in the year, including nine more non-competing awards and two more competing RPGs compared with 2009, NHGRI predicted.

Medical sequencing funding would increase by $5 million to around $65 million. The increase would be used to increase the proportion of the institute's sequencing program that supports new opportunities to apply genomic tools to human disease studies.

The Large-scale Sequencing Program would decrease by $10 million to $25 million under the proposal. This decrease reflects a shift in funding from non-medical to medical sequencing and to spending on the Cancer Genome Atlas. It also is the result of increased efficiency of the process of sequencing.

The non-medical component "will maintain, or possibly increase, the total amount of data it can generate within the reduced funding, because of expected increased output and decreased costs afforded by next-generation sequencing technologies," NHGRI said.

That decrease will be partly offset by the boost to the Cancer Genome Atlas program, which would receive an increase of $5.5 million to a total of $22.5 million.

Translational Genomics studies will get a small bump of $900,000 to $25.5 million. The increase shows a greater focus on genome-wide association studies for several additional diseases that will be selected through a peer-reviewed competition and for drug and treatment response. New studies aimed at developing computational and experimental methods to follow up on the GWAS results will be undertaken to determine the specific genetic variations responsible for the diseases.

The extra $3 million spent on research centers, raising its total to $201 million, would maintain the level of centers at 45 in the year.

Small Business Innovation Research grants and the Small Business Technology Transfer grants program would increase by only $150,000, translating into an estimated drop of two grants fewer than the 26 expected for this year.

NHGRI expects R&D contracts to increase by $264,000, research training to increase by $38,000, and overall extramural spending to go up by around by around $5.3 million.

Full-time employees at NHGRI are expected to increase by six to around 323.

By percentages, RPGs would increase under the budget by 1.3 percent, while research centers, other research, R&D contracts, and intramural research would go up by 1.5 percent. Research training would increase by half a percent, and research management and support would increase by 1.7 percent.

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