The United States’ global leadership in research and development remains at risk as other countries accelerate investments in research and development.
The National Institutes of Health could see sequester-driven budget cuts reversed and funding for medical research increased under a fiscal 2014 budget approved by a U.S Senate committee.
The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee approved a spending bill that would provide nearly $31 billion to fund biomedical research at the NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, an increase of $307 million over its fiscal 2013 budget, as enacted before across-the-board U.S. government spending cuts were triggered in March.
While praising the Senate bill as “a step in the right direction” in softening sequestration’s impact, Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley says that the United States’ global leadership in research and development remains at risk as other countries accelerate investments in research and development.
The budget bill would increase by $84 million funding for the National Institute on Aging, the NIH institute with primary responsibility for preventing, treating, and curing Alzheimer’s disease. That funding includes $20 million for a new Alzheimer’s disease initiative intended to stengthen long-term services and supports, assist caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease, and train healthcare providers on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and manage the disease.
The bill would also allow the NIH to allocate $40 million to the new Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative, a program working to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that can show how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact. The program, launched in April, aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.
Ultimate funding levels for the NIH and other health and research programs remain to be seen. The House of Representatives has yet to mark up its version of the spending bill, but its $121.8 billion allocation for the Labor-HHS bill falls more than 25 percent short of the $164.3 billion allocated by the Senate bill, setting up a wide gulf that could take months to resolve.
July 10, 2013