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US Senate Mulling Additional $400M for NIH in 2008; Fate Tied to War Funds

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Senate this week began considering adding a supplemental $400 million to the National Institutes of Health’s total 2008 budget to augment its funding for the year, which has continued a trend of stagnation that began after 2004.
The senate may vote next week on the supplemental appropriation funding, which is part of a much larger bill that was drafted to provide emergency funding for the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Carrie Wolinetz of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology.
Senator Tom Harkin (D – Iowa) estimated that the extra $400 million to the NIH would “be sufficient to fund approximately 700 additional research grants in FY 2008,” the senator’s office said in a statement.
The similar version of the supplemental appropriations bill in the US House of Representatives does not currently contain the NIH add-ons, but Wolinetz said it is likely that if the Senate passes it the House is likely to follow along and use the Senate version of the bill.
Wolinetz said that while the cause of raising NIH funding has broad support in Congress, the only point of contention that she could see arise over this bill is if someone calls into question the appropriateness of using an emergency war funding bill to support scientific research.
FASEB President Robert Palazzo has publicly urged Harkin and other politicians to open up more funds for the NIH.
“Unfortunately, after five years of flat funding,” Palazzo said in a statement this week, “we are actually performing less research than we were six years ago, to the detriment of medical progress and discouragement of our best and brightest scientists.”

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