Proposed NIH Budget Increase Too Small to Meet Research Needs
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In an era of supposed budget surpluses and debt reduction, most researchers in the field of biomedical science had anticipated that the planned doubling of the budget for the National Institutes of Health by the year 2003 would remain on track. However, after the State of the Union address by President Clinton, most were chagrined to realize that he proposed to increase the NIH budget by just slightly more than 2%.
Compared with the nearly 15% increase in the fiscal year (FY) 1999 budget, the increase was not even steady state, and it prompted a rush to shore up the advances gained in previous years. “This is a unique time in the history of biomedical science,” said William Brinkley, PhD, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). “With all the contributions of genomic science, we could develop a new paradigm in medicine.” However, the ability to take advantage of the new knowledge will depend to a large extent on the amount of money available for research.
In FY 1999, it seemed the federal government concurred. Although President Clinton had suggested only an 8.4% increase in his State of the Union address, Congress ended up bolstering that sum to 15%. Harold Varmus, PhD, director of the NIH, assured Congress that it was money that …