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White House Seeks Flat NIH Budget for 2013

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – US President Barack Obama today sent Congress a budget plan for fiscal year 2013 that seeks $30.7 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health, the same dollar amount the biomedical research agency received this fiscal year.

The budget proposal also seeks a five percent increase to $7.4 billion for the National Science Foundation.

The proposed funding comes during a Presidential election campaign that is expected to highlight battles over federal deficits and fiscal austerity. While the potential for $1.2 trillion mandatory spending cuts loom after the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach a long-term deficit deal, the current fiscal climate required the administration to make "tough choices," said Obama, who unveiled the budget at a community college in Northern Virginia.

In the budget, the administration said that it upheld the same funding level for NIH in spite of "very tight discretionary caps" on spending that are already in place due to an earlier, short-term deficit-cutting agreement.

According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the flat funding for 2013 year-over-year would effectively amount to a cut because it would not keep pace with biomedical inflation, which FASEB expects to be around 3.5 percent in 2013. Because of that expected increase in biomedical inflation, FASEB said in a recent report that NIH should receive at least $32 billion in 2013.

The administration said that the 2013 budget would further a new emphasis on translational science at NIH by continuing the implementation of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, which received $577 million for FY2012.

"To get the most from [NIH funding] investments, NIH will increase its focus on reducing barriers along the path to clinical trials, which will facilitate development of new therapeutics to treat diseases and disorders that affect millions of Americans," the administration stated in the budget.

The administration also said it plans to "implement new grants management policies to increase the number of new research grants awarded and continue focusing resources on new investigators."

The tight fiscal environment also is reflected in the budget proposal for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which would receive a cut of nearly 12 percent from to $5.1 billion from $5.7 billion.

In addition, the budget includes $4.5 billion in total program-level resources for the Food and Drug Administration, compared with $3.8 billion for 2012. The Department of Energy's Office of Science, which funds the Joint Genome Institute and other biology research aimed at developing better renewable biofuels and energy-related technologies, would receive $5 billion, compared to $4.9 billion this fiscal year.

The budget also asks for around $312 million in mandatory R&D funding for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct clinical comparative effectiveness research, as well as $1 billion for medical and prosthetic research at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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