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Congressional Committee Proposes 4 Percent Boost to NIH Budget in Fiscal 2017

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released a bill proposing a $1.25 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2017, which would boost the agency's annual budget to $33.3 billion.

The proposed 4 percent increase — which comes as part of a broader Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill — falls short of the additional $2 billion the NIH received in fiscal 2016, and is $750,000 short of the $2 billion funding boost the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved last month.

Still, if the bill is signed into law, this would be the second year in a row that the NIH receives a major funding boost after more than a decade of stagnant funding. And during a markup of the bill, subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) noted that the proposed NIH budget should be seen as "a floor, not as a ceiling. … This number can increase as the process moves forward." 

The bill provides funding increases for several key NIH research initiatives, including a $45 million increase to $195 million for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, which is advancing new technologies for imaging, mapping, and studying the brain; and a $100 million increase to $300 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, which seeks to obtain genome sequence data on more than 1 million Americans and to use that information to accelerate the development of personalized medical treatment.

Earlier this year, NIH Director Francis Collins warned a Senate subcommittee that a loss of funding for the agency would threaten these and other of the agency's most promising programs. 

The subcommittee bill also calls for an additional $605 million in funding for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a total of $7.8 billion in fiscal 2017.