Science groups ramp up NIH advocacy

As the FY2010 federal budget readies for Congressional battles and public debate, science advocacy groups are upping their recommendations for funding increases at the National Institutes of Health. But are their calls realistic? The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, which is composed of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the linkurl:Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology;http://opa.faseb.org/pdf/2009/Funding_Recommendation.3.18.09.pdf (FASEB), the Campaign

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Mar 19, 2009
As the FY2010 federal budget readies for Congressional battles and public debate, science advocacy groups are upping their recommendations for funding increases at the National Institutes of Health. But are their calls realistic? The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, which is composed of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the linkurl:Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology;http://opa.faseb.org/pdf/2009/Funding_Recommendation.3.18.09.pdf (FASEB), the Campaign for Medical Research, the National Health Council, and Research!America, has called for a 7% increase in NIH's FY2010 budget. The consortium recommended a 6.6% NIH budget increase in the FY2009 budget. Advocacy groups, it seems, have been emboldened by President Barack Obama's recent assurances that science will play a more important role in his administration than it has in years past. "We are very grateful for the support that the President has voiced for research, and are heartened by the fact that science figures so prominently in his...
increases at the National Institutes of Health. But are their calls realistic? The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, which is composed of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the linkurl:Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology;http://opa.faseb.org/pdf/2009/Funding_Recommendation.3.18.09.pdf (FASEB), the Campaign for Medical Research, the National Health Council, and Research!America, has called for a 7% increase in NIH's FY2010 budget. The consortium recommended a 6.6% NIH budget increase in the FY2009 budget. Advocacy groups, it seems, have been emboldened by President Barack Obama's recent assurances that science will play a more important role in his administration than it has in years past. "We are very grateful for the support that the President has voiced for research, and are heartened by the fact that science figures so prominently in his discussion of policy directions," a FASEB spokesperson wrote in an email. "In our deliberations leading to the 7% recommendation, President Obama's pledge to double basic research funding in 10 years was an important consideration." "The president's comments both during the campaign and since the inauguration have encouraged people to be more ambitious in terms of science," Dave Moore, senior director for government relations at the AAMC, told __The Scientist__. linkurl:Research!America,;http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/FY2010Fundingltr.pdf however, broke ranks with the consortium, recommending a 10% NIH budget increase. "Some groups wanted to be more aggressive," Moore said, adding that the Society for Neuroscience and several cancer research advocacy groups also supported a 10% hike. Stacie Propst, Research!America's vice president of science policy and outreach, said that the group feels a "more consistent and growing investment" in NIH is necessary to keep the agency's overall budget high after the stimulus funds it recently received are spent. "The concern would be that you're going to have a pretty big drop off in the total amount of money available to the scientific community trying to study disease," she said. "If we're not investing aggressively enough, we're going to forfeit the research capacity we've built up." Propst added that Research!America would like to see the NIH budget - at $30.3 billion got FY2009 - top$40 billion in the near future. "If we do 10 % for three years, that will get us to $40 billion." Is that realistic in the current economic climate? "Yes. I absolutely think it's possible," Propst said. "The bottom line is that a lot of money is going to get spent even if we cut back [on the federal budget]." But with the economy in tatters and no signs of an upswing in sight, some advocates appear more skeptical about the battle for an increased NIH budget ahead of them. "We recognize this is going to be a very difficult year," said Moore. "It's going to be difficult for Congress to achieve that level of funding." Joanne Carney, director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Center for Science, Technology and Congress, agreed. "I think we will see an increase. I'm not sure we'll see 7% or 10%," she said. "That is going to be a very hard percentage to achieve because there is going to be a concerted effort to reduce the deficit. Hopefully, I'll be proven wrong."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:3% boost for NIH passed in Senate;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55501/
[11th March 2009]*linkurl:The Economic Stimulus and Science;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/55466/
[March 2009]*linkurl:Life science scores in 2010 budget;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55483/
[26th February 2009]

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