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Small Boost for NIH Passes Senate Subcommittee

The US Senate subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services yesterday passed a spending bill for 2014 that would provide a small increase for the National Institutes of Health.

The bill would provide $30.96 billion for NIH next year, an increase of $307 million over the 2013 pre-sequestration funding level. That number is just short of the $31.09 billion that the Obama Administration requested in its 2014 budget proposal earlier this year.

According to Nature, the funding bill also would quintuple funding for the Cures Acceleration Network, an NIH effort to support translational medicine projects, boosting the program to $50 million.

The spending plan also would appropriate $276 million, $51 million more than the White House proposed, to fund the Institutional Development Awards Program, which provides funding to build up research infrastructure in states that have historically low levels of NIH funding.

The bill also would expand to other agencies the open access policy that is now operating at NIH, which requires that investigators deposit manuscripts derived from taxpayer-funded research, to include other agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services, Nature says.

If the subcommittee plan makes it past the full Senate Appropriations Committee it will still face a stiff challenge in passing the House of Representatives, because the Senate assumes that the sequestration will be avoided, as United for Medical Research points out.

The sequestration would cut an estimated $1.6 billion from NIH’s budget next year, UMR notes.