The Stimulus and NIH Funding

I’ve been looking at <a href="the Recovery Bill working its way through the House Appropriations Committee, and, regarding NIH funding, I have a lot of the same doubts that ScienceBlogling Jake does. I’m concerned that it spends too much money building capacity without any commitment to provide research funds to use that equipment.

One of the very good things this bill would do is to provide much-needed repairs and upgrades to existing federal research facilities. But the bill also provides for improve non-federal research facilities (p. 138):

For an additional amount for ”National Center for Research Resources”, $1,500,000,000 for grants or contracts under section 481A of the Public Health Service Act to renovate or repair existing non-Federal research facilities

While the bill also calls for increased funding for research of $1.5 billion (the NIH budget is ~$20 billion). But, like Jake, I think if this isn’t sustained, then we will once again have built a whole lot of capacity, increased the pool of researchers, only to cut their legs out from under them. There’s also no mechanism to restore reduced grant funds to their original levels (which would also provide a more immediate stimulus).
The other problem with this bill is that AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) doesn’t get enough funding. It does get an increase, but it’s designed to promote “comparative effectiveness research.” AHRQ should be getting a lot more money to implement, at least on a regional scale, the results of this research. We don’t need more ‘model’ programs, we need to learn how to implement these programs beyond a couple (or one) of medical facilities.
Nonetheless, this better than anything Little Lord Pontchartrain ever proposed. If the downstream funding actually does materialize, then this will be a good thing for science.
And by the way, why aren’t we just doubling the NSF budget flat out; it’s a disgrace.

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3 Responses to The Stimulus and NIH Funding

  1. David Bruggeman says:

    This is a Stimulus and Recovery Bill. The funds are supposed to be dealt out over the next two years and that’s it. The thinking – right or wrong – is that the targeted funding in this bill would prompt relatively quick action. They’re not focused on long term impacts outside of general economic improvement.
    There are, however, two other budgets coming soon that would be great places to fight for what you want – the bill for the second half of FY 2009 funding (the continuing resolution expires in March), and the FY 2010 budget (which should be rolled out within the first 90 days of the Obama Administration.

  2. John says:

    I disagree, David. There’s no better time to fight than now, as everything is very plastic. I urge everyone to contact their congresspersons and ask that instead of dividing the $3.5B up, simply to put it all into extramural grants.
    Offer economic arguments, too. Just point out that those grants will lead to rapid hiring and far more real science (and resulting economic development) than the proposed allocation.

  3. oyun says:

    oming soon that would be great places to fight for what you want – the bill for the second half of FY 2009

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