1997 Budget Boosts NIH, Medical Research Overall
By Carla Garnett
On the Front Page...
The centerpiece of NIH's 1997 budget is the $90 million down payment on the CRC, which according to the new budget law, will bear the name "Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center," in honor of the retiring Republican senator from Oregon who has chaired the Senate appropriations committee and has been a medical research supporter in the Senate since 1967. CRC construction carries a $310 million price tag, with funding phases spread over several years, and is slated to begin in this fiscal year. The current budget signed into law by President Clinton contains precise language allowing NIH to contract for the full scope of the new project even though future year appropriations will be needed to complete funding.
Other highlights of the spending law include adoption of a complex way of disbursing funding for AIDS research at NIH that takes the money through several accounting channels with this result: AIDS funds will be provided to NIH institutes, centers and divisions in amounts determined by the overall research funding plan of the Office of AIDS Research, as agreed to by the NIH director. The OAR director and the NIH director will also have joint authority to shift up to 3 percent of the AIDS budget among ICDs throughout the year as research priorities or opportunities change, the law states. Although specific AIDS funding was not earmarked in the law, NIH indicated it would spend $1.502 billion -- a 6.8 percent increase over last year -- of its total 1997 budget on AIDS.
Special emphasis areas -- research priorities such as the Biology of Brain Disorders, New Approaches to Pathogenesis, New Preventive Strategies Against Disease, Genetics of Medicine and Advanced Instrumentation and Computers in Medicine and Research that NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus has designated to stress this year -- were provided $240 million.
NIH's Office of Alternative Medicine received $12 million, which more than doubles OAM's budget of a year ago. The new funds will provide support to the ICDs through collaborative research projects.
Although NIH's total budget increased over last year's, administrative costs will be held at fiscal year 1996's level. Overall, the intramural research program's spending will increase at a somewhat lesser rate than the overall budget, probably in the range of 3 to 4 percent.
The National Foundation for Biomedical Research, authorized by Congress in 1990 legislation, received $200,000 in seed money.
The NIH director's authority to transfer 1 percent of the total budget among ICDs to meet unforeseen research opportunities was continued.
As part of reaching final agreement on funding levels, congressional conferees agreed to an additional $5 million for a pediatric research initiative; an additional $8 million for neurodegenerative disease research; and $14.75 million for the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer.
Medical research in other agencies received 1997 budget boons in the omnibus law as well: The Department of Defense, for instance, will be able to launch a new prostate cancer research effort.
Up to Top