The drive to double spending by the National Institutes of Health between 1998 and 2003 reached its halfway point Dec. 15, when Congress approved a new NIH budget that represented a 50 percent increase from just three years ago. A 14 percent boost of $2.5 billion propels NIH spending to $20.3 billion for fiscal year 2001. The support expressed by President-elect George W. Bush during the presidential campaign to double NIH spending signals that the agency remains on track to double its budget in just five years. The increase for 2001 far exceeds the Clinton administration's requested 5.6 percent addition of $1 billion and marks the third 14 percent hike in a row. Acting NIH director Ruth Kirschstein had called the first two increases in 1998 and 1999 "unprecedented" and the increase proves again the bipartisan popularity in Congress for medical research.

Generosity, however, doesn't mean timeliness as Congress once...

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