Sens. to Sebelius: Support the NIH

Today on Capitol Hill, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius caught a little guff from Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) about the paltry increase -- just about $442 million -- that HHS is proposing for the National Institutes of Health's 2010 budget. "I would urge you to take another look at that figure," Specter said to Sebelius at a Senate subcommittee linkurl:hearing.;http://www.senate.gov/fplayers/CommPlayer/commFlashPlayer.cfm?fn=appropsA060

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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Jun 8, 2009
Today on Capitol Hill, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius caught a little guff from Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) about the paltry increase -- just about $442 million -- that HHS is proposing for the National Institutes of Health's 2010 budget. "I would urge you to take another look at that figure," Specter said to Sebelius at a Senate subcommittee linkurl:hearing.;http://www.senate.gov/fplayers/CommPlayer/commFlashPlayer.cfm?fn=appropsA060909p&st=35 "We are in jeopardy of losing a generation of young research scientists. And I think we have to maintain the growth rate." Sebelius responded that, in terms of keeping the NIH's funding healthy, she too wants to "make sure we don't reach a cliff and fall off the edge of the cliff." "I share the concern that we continue to invest in science and research," Sebelius said. But she maintained that the $10 billion that NIH scored in the stimulus bill would...
len Specter (D-PA) about the paltry increase -- just about $442 million -- that HHS is proposing for the National Institutes of Health's 2010 budget. "I would urge you to take another look at that figure," Specter said to Sebelius at a Senate subcommittee linkurl:hearing.;http://www.senate.gov/fplayers/CommPlayer/commFlashPlayer.cfm?fn=appropsA060909p&st=35 "We are in jeopardy of losing a generation of young research scientists. And I think we have to maintain the growth rate." Sebelius responded that, in terms of keeping the NIH's funding healthy, she too wants to "make sure we don't reach a cliff and fall off the edge of the cliff." "I share the concern that we continue to invest in science and research," Sebelius said. But she maintained that the $10 billion that NIH scored in the stimulus bill would be enough to carry the agency through some lean budget years. "In putting together the 2010 budget there was a recognition that the Recovery Act funds will fund 2010 and some of the 2011 strategies" for sustaining this overall investment, she said. To this Specter replied that "the stimulus package and that $10 billion," which he had a big hand in securing for the agency, "ought not to be looked at for the regular funding." "We were looking for that to stimulate the economy and for jobs," Specter continued. "It was not the generalization that the stimulus would be used in place of future years' funding. We'd like to maintain NIH funding on its own." Then Harking, the subcommittee chairman, joined in. "I am concerned about the 'cliff,' and the baseline, and what happens to that baseline funding," he said. "To only put in $442 million doesn't do much for getting our baseline up." With Specter and Harkin sitting on the Senate subcommittee responsible for negotiating HHS's federal funding, the NIH may see more money in 2010 than HHS has asked for at first blush. And with record numbers of researchers applying for the NIH's stimulus-cash-fueled Challenge Grants and more likely to belly up to the trough, the agency will likely need it. "[Specter's] going to be dogged on this," said Harkin before adjourning the meeting, "and I am going to be joining with him on it."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Science scores in 2010 US budget;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55681/
[7th May 2009]*linkurl:Life science scores in 2010 budget;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55483/
[26th February 2009]

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