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Senate Subcommittee Proposes $2B Boost in NIH Funding

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The US Senate subcommittee on health spending today proposed a $2 billion funding increase for the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2017, which would boost the agency's annual budget to $34 billion.

The budget proposal marks the culmination of bipartisan negotiations led by Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) and Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and follows a warning by NIH Director Francis Collins earlier this year that a loss of funding for the agency would threaten its most promising programs.

If the bill is signed into law, this would be the second year in a row that the NIH receives a major budget boost after more than a decade of stagnate funding. The agency received an additional $2 billion last year. 

"Last year, for the first time in 12 years, we were able to have an increase in [funding to support] NIH research," Blunt said at a subcommittee meeting to unveil the budget proposal. "We have worked hard to repeat that this year." Adding that he hopes to establish a pattern of increases for health research funding, he further noted that "if you are going to have an annual pattern, year two is critical. So we're proposing for the second year in a row we make a substantial commitment to NIH research."

Specifically included in the proposed $34 billion NIH budget is an additional $100 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), which seeks to obtain genome sequence data on more than one million Americans and to use that information to accelerate the development of personalized medical treatment; $100 million more for the BRAIN Initiative, which is advancing new technologies for imaging, mapping, and studying the brain; and a $216.3 million increase for the National Cancer Institute.

Under last year's budget, the PMI received a total of $200 million, the BRAIN Initiative received $150 million, and the NCI received $5.21 billion.

The proposed spending bill is slated to go before the full Senate appropriations committee on Thursday.