President Bush yesterday (February 6) sent to Congress a flat $28.6 billion budget request for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), freezing spending in Fiscal 2007 at the same level as this year. If enacted, it would be the fourth year in a row that NIH funding has failed to keep pace with the rate of biomedical inflation, estimated at 3.5% for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, 2006.Research advocates and representatives of professional societies yesterday expressed grave concerns that the spending freeze would weaken the nation's ability to conduct vital biomedical research, especially after NIH's budget was cut for the first time in more than three decades this year. The proposed freeze is "shortsighted in the extreme," said Jordan J. Cohen, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in a statement yesterday. The new proposal "continues to erode federal support for medical research."Because NIH's budget has failed...

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