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Congress Hikes NIH Budget

WASHINGTON-The National Institutes of Health will receive an additional $910 million this year in a budget that provides for more than 6,200 new and competing grants, 21 new research centers, no lid on the total number of projects to be funded and no provision to lower the reimbursement rate for administrative indirect costs paid to universities. This good news for scientists comes as part of an agreement between House and Senate conferees on the Institutes' budget for the fiscal year that bega

By | October 20, 1986

WASHINGTON-The National Institutes of Health will receive an additional $910 million this year in a budget that provides for more than 6,200 new and competing grants, 21 new research centers, no lid on the total number of projects to be funded and no provision to lower the reimbursement rate for administrative indirect costs paid to universities.

This good news for scientists comes as part of an agreement between House and Senate conferees on the Institutes' budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. At press deadline legislators had not decided whether to include this agreement in a $500-billion funding measure that Congress must approve to keep the government running or to vote on it as a separate appropriations bill that includes the budgets for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor.

For most of the decade the Reagan administration has submitted a conservative budget for the 12 health institutes and then watched unhappily as Congress raised the figures. This year Congress was even more generous than usual, raising the total to $6.18 billion compared with a White House request of $5.08 billion and current funding of $5.27 billion.

The budget agreement provides funds for 6,231 new and competing grants. The current level is 6,011, and the administration in February proposed funding only 5,140 such grants in fiscal 1987. The agreement also contains money for fuller fundings of 13,400 continuing, non-competing projects.

By approving funds for some 19,631 projects legislators rejected an administration request for a new Research Grant Stabilization Policy that would have set a ceiling of 18,000 on the total number of such projects. But they agreed not to require a minimum number of employees at the Institute.

By failing to take action the committee also scorned a proposal from the Office of Management and Budget for a uniform rate of 20 percent on the administrative portion of indirect costs paid to institutions as part of their federal grant. The rates, negotiated individually by each institution, now average 26 percent and run considerably higher at some private medical schools.

Subject to minor changes, the agreement also contains:

  • $1.06 billion for the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration compared with $926 million this year;
  • $248 million for research on AIDS, distributed across eight institutes, as well as $47 million for expanded experimental drug trials to treat AIDS patients.
  • $226 million for 10,524 research trainees, compared with $209 mil lion for 9,950 trainees this year;
  • $520 million for 556 research centers, an increase from $464 mil lion and 535 centers currently. The funds will more fully support existing centers on Alzheimer's disease and create six new centers for kidney-urology research and nine on rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis;
  • $650 million for intramural re search compared with $537 million this year. The funds include $13 million to renovate and improve the Institutes' laboratory facilities for animals.

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