FASEB: Put NIH back on track
Gearing up to the president's FY08 budget requests, the US biomedical coalition recommends increases over three years to overcome inflationary losses
Congress should provide the National Institutes of Health with enough funds in the next budget year to "set the NIH on a three-year track to recoup the losses caused by biomedical research inflation," according to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)'s annual funding report
, released today (January 31).
The biomedical coalition
asked lawmakers to give NIH sufficient funds "to maintain its purchasing power and take advantage of scientific opportunities" in Fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1, 2007. "We are in danger of sacrificing our nation's dominance in biomedical research and biotechnology," the FASEB report warns.
On Monday (Feb. 5), President Bush will submit the Administration's Fiscal 2008 budget requests to Congress, which has failed to pass
budgets for the current 2007 fiscal year for NIH and most other government agencies, leaving them to run at 2006 levels.
Today, the House is scheduled to vote on a revised budget resolution
that would increase funding for selected agencies. NIH would receive a $620 million (or 2.1 percent) increase beyond the Administration's request
to support 500 additional research project grants, 1,500 first-time investigators, and expand funding for high-risk research, according to a congressional summary
. The Senate is expected to take up the resolution next week.
In a break from previous years, FASEB is not recommending a specific dollar amount or percentage increase for NIH for next year. "We don't have a 2007 starting point and we won't have a current estimate of the biomedical rate of inflation
until after the president's budget is released," explained Howard Garrison, FASEB's public affairs director. "So both our starting point and target are unidentified due to circumstances beyond our control," he told The Scientist
The funding report represents consensus recommendations of FASEB's 21 biomedical research societies, Garrison said. Last year
, FASEB recommended NIH receive a 5 percent increase, and 10 percent the year before that. However, NIH funding since 2004 has remained relatively flat, at around $28 billion. If the NIH budget is maintained at the 2006 level of $28.6 billion for another year, the agency will have lost more than nine percent of its inflation-adjusted purchasing power over the past four years, said Dave Moore, senior associate vice president at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
"For a program like NIH, this has potentially dramatic effects. That means fewer grants, it means smaller grants, it means it's going to be more difficult for new investigators and young investigators to get their research funded," Moore told The Scientist
Despite the fact that Congress has not heeded FASEB's advice in recent years, "congressional committee staffers are appreciative of FASEB's recommendations because it gives them an idea of what the research community is thinking," noted Garrison. "We try to find ways to represent our membership and the message they want to express" to Congress and the White House.
Last month, NIH eliminated a planned 3.4 percent inflationary increase
for noncompeting research project grants in 2007 to help fund new and competing RPGs and keep them from dropping below 2005 levels. "We want to address core areas of vulnerability -- new investigators and their ability to compete in these really difficult times," Norka Ruiz Bravo, NIH deputy director for extramural research, told The Scientist
The National Institutes of Health Reform Act
of 2006, a non-binding law enacted last month, authorizes -- but does not require -- a 7 percent budget increase of $2 billion for Fiscal 2007 and an 8.2 percent increase of $2.5 billion for Fiscal 2008.
Links within this article
"Federal Funding for Biomedical and Related Life Sciences Research FY 2008," Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Washington, D.C., Jan. 31, 2007
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
T. Agres, "Science bills hatch from lame duck," The Scientist
, Dec. 12, 2006
Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007 (HJ Res 20)
T. Agres, "NIH held to flat funding in '07," The Scientist
, February 7, 2006
Summary of the Joint Resolution, House Committee on Appropriations
Biomedical Research and Development Price Index
T. Agres, "FASEB recommends 5% NIH boost," The Scientist
, Jan. 23, 2006
NIH Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards - FY 2007
"National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006" (PL 109-482)