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Congress Reaches Agreement on Budget to Boost NIH Funding by $2B

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Congress late Tuesday night reached an agreement on a tax and spending budget that would give the National Institutes of Health $32 billion in funding in fiscal year 2016, $2 billion more than the agency received the year before and its biggest funding boost in 12 years. 

According to government officials, the proposed budget would specifically provide the NIH with $200 million for its planned Precision Medicine Initiative, an ambitious research effort unveiled by President Obama in January that, among other things, seeks to obtaining genome sequence data on more than 1 million Americans and to use that information accelerate the development of personalized medical treatments.

Also getting a boost under the proposed budget is the NIH's BRAIN Initiative — a program launched in 2013 to advance the development of new technologies for imaging, mapping, and studying the brain — which stands to get an $85 million increase that would lift its fiscal year 2016 funding to $150 million.

Both the Precision Medicine Initiative and the BRAIN Initiative were cited in October by NIH Director Francis Collins as key programs that would be threatened without additional funding.

The budget agreement further allocates $350 million to the NIH for Alzheimer's disease research; $461 million to fight antibiotic resistance, representing an increase of $100 million over last year; and $320.8 million for the Institutional Development Award, a program designed to increase NIH funding in states where success rates for grant applications have been historically low.

The deal would also provide funding increases to every NIH institute and center to support ongoing basic biomedical and translational research.

In addition, it would provide more than $2.7 billion in discretionary funding to the US Food and Drug Administration — $132 million above the fiscal 2015 level. Total FDA funding, including user fee revenues, is $4.68 billion. The proposed budget also fully funds the FDA's request for a $104.5 million increase in money for implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act. 

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been allocated an additional $300 million in fiscal year 2016, which would provide it with $7.2 billion for the year. The proposed budget prioritizes funding for critical disease prevention and biodefense research activities, including $160 million to support the agency's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and $1.4 billion for Public Health Preparedness and Response for addressing bioterror attacks or pandemic disease emergencies at the state and local levels.

Also under the budget agreement, Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria — a collaboration between the NIH, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the CDC, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality — would get a nearly 65 percent increase in funding to $774 million to continue developing new antibiotics, building a rapid identification system for resistant bacteria, and improving antibiotic stewardship.

The agreement still requires approval by both the House and Senate in votes that are expected to take place by the end of the week. A short-term spending resolution that previously prevented a government shutdown is set to expire today, but is likely to be replaced with another stop-gap spending bill that will give lawmakers until next Wednesday to sign off on the budget.