The NIH Funding Crunch

There have been several good posts on the NIH funding crunch here at ScienceBlogs. With that in mind, I bring you a funding estimate from the NIAID Newsletter:

Level budgets continue to loom on the horizon. “For the past couple of years, NIH’s budget has been disturbingly flat,” NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci commented to NIAID’s main advisory Council in May, “and this demands difficult choices.”
In the President’s budget request, the first step in the annual appropriations process, NIAID’s FY 2007 allocation would rise to $4.4 billion, just $12 million or 0.3 percent more than this fiscal year.
Still, as Dr. Fauci noted, we continue to fare better than other institutes and centers and NIH overall, whose budgets are either flat or declining. One exception is NIH’s Office of the Director, which would get an increase of almost $140 million, mainly for advanced product development of biodefense countermeasures and Roadmap activities.
Over the long haul, NIAID’s funding has soared — from $320 million in fiscal year 1984 when we were one of the smaller institutes. Our gains reflect growth first in AIDS and then biodefense research, and more recently, a slightly greater proportion of the doubling than the mean for NIH.
NIAID’s proposed increase for 2007 targets pandemic influenza, HIV and AIDS vaccine research, and our contribution to the NIH Genes and Environment Initiative.
The latter program will explore the relative contributions of genes and the environment to major public health disorders, including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, cataracts, hypertension, Parkinson’s, autism, obesity, and others.

We’ll forget for the moment the concept of inflation which means that, in real dollar terms, the budget is shrinking about five percent per year (the rate of ‘research inflation’ runs a little higher than ‘real’ inflation). What the propaganda alludes to, but doesn’t state outright, is that the available funding has been moved to biosecurity (which most microbiologists think is bullshit), influenza, and a couple of human genomics initiatives from everything else. That means all the other areas (e.g., cancer, antibiotic resistance, public health) are getting slashed, and ongoing research programs are being ended. One long-time researcher told me that it’s getting as bad as it was in the early eighties, which led to many researchers leaving science all together. Right now, funding rates at many NIH panels are as low as they have ever been.
This is no way to prioritize research. Keep in mind that a couple weeks worth of Iraqi occupation expenditures would make up the shortfall. One more casualty of Bush’s stupid war…

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2 Responses to The NIH Funding Crunch

  1. Quitter says:

    You forgot to criticize the pointless and stupid roadmap which the editor of JCI attacked as being fundamentally flawed also see his response to critiques.
    Simply, he describes how the great driving force behind American research has always been the R01 investigator hypothesis-driven grants that allow flexibility and innovation from the ground up. The top down bureacracy and “initiatives” of the roadmap are destined for failure.
    A stunning editorial from an editor of a major journal.

  2. getitright says:

    And exactly which wonderful, wonderful benefits are we supposed to believe are flowing from NIH? They have spent years and years chasing less and less in the way of real, useful answers. To anything.
    Value out for BILLIONS of dollars in? Not there.

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