In DepthBiomedical Research

Spending bills put NIH on track for biggest raise in 12 years

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Science  03 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6243, pp. 12-13
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6243.12

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) may be headed for its largest budget increase in more than a decade. Last week, a Senate panel approved a $2 billion increase for NIH in 2016, or a 6.6% raise, to $32.1 billion. And a House of Representatives panel has approved a $1.2 billion increase, $100 million more than requested by the White House. The bills, which set spending levels for the 2016 fiscal year that begins 1 October, also give an unexpectedly hefty boost to Alzheimer's disease research and revive the recently canceled National Children's Study. "The Senate mark is obviously the best … action we have seen for NIH in more than 12 years," says Pat White, president of ACT for NIH, a Washington, D.C., group that lobbies for biomedical research funding. But some groups are concerned about provisions in the two bills to either slash or eliminate funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which supports studies of evidence-based medicine. Although the House and Senate still have to agree on a final number—a process which could be complicated by debates over long-term government spending—biomedical research advocates "are starting from a pretty good position," says Jennifer Zeitzer, deputy director of the office of public affairs of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland.