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President Signs Economic Recovery Act, Giving NIH $10B

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — At a press conference in Denver this afternoon, US President Barack Obama put the ink on a $787 billion stimulus bill that will provide up to $10 billion in total funding for the National Institutes of Health, and will fund other basic research and a health information technology initiative for electronic medical records.

The NIH funding was added to the stimulus package in part by Senator Dick Durbin (D – Ill.), who added a $6.5 billion increase to the $3.5 billion for the institutes that was in the House of Representatives version of the bill. The NIH funding also was supported by Senator Arlen Specter (R – Pa.), who, as one of only three Senate Republicans voting for the bill, provided extra support for keeping the biomedical funding in the bill while it was trimmed down.

As GenomeWeb Daily News reported last week while Congress debated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the bill also includes $500 million for repair and construction projects at NIH's Bethesda campus, $1.2 billion for the National Science Foundation, $300 million for the National Center for Research Resources for shared instruments and other capital research equipment. The bill also calls for $19 billion for a health information technology initiative.

"We hope that this is the beginning of a renewed, long-term, national commitment to sustained growth in medical research funding," Darrell Kirch, who is president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said in a statement.

"Ongoing bold and visionary NIH funding will benefit all Americans through new treatments and cures, and contribute to our economic strength by creating skilled and high-paying jobs, new products and industries, and improved technologies, Kirch said.

"The federal funding included for research, medical education, and patient care will help ensure that the nation's medical schools and teaching hospitals will continue to be regional economic engines," said Richard Marchase, who is president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, in a statement supporting the Senate's passage of the bill last week.