Members of the US House of Representatives questioned NIH Director Francis Collins and Thomas Insel, the acting director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, last week about their budget plans for 2013. This week, it was the US Senate's turn, says ScienceInsider's Jocelyn Kaiser. The tone of this panel meeting was "much friendlier" than the House session, Kaiser says, but there were two points of complaint: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) was troubled by President Barack Obama's decision to grant NIH an extra $80 million for Alzheimer's research, and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) questioned a proposal to cap the amount of funding any single investigator may receive.
Harkin said that while he supports Alzheimer's research, he doesn't think $80 million is appropriate, given that the money would have to come from a Department of Health and Human Services fund to support disease prevention, Kaiser reports. And Shelby said the $1.5 million funding cap proposal would allow something other than good science to dictate grant allocation. Collins countered, saying funding proposal is less of a cap, and more of a means to ensure that grant proposals from NIH investigators who have already received $1.5 million or more in grants will "get a little bit more scrutiny."