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HHS Update: President’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal Calls for Small Increase for NCI

Posted Feb 28 2011 10:23pm

President’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal Calls for Small Increase for NCI

The Obama administration’s federal budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2012 increases the NIH budget by approximately 4 percent, to $31.8 billion, and includes a small increase for NCI. Under the proposal, NCI’s budget would be $5.196 billion, up from the $5.098 billion that NCI obligated in FY 2010. Because Congress failed to approve a federal budget for FY 2011 during its last session, all federal agencies are currently operating at FY 2010 levels under what is known as a continuing resolution.

In a press briefing to unveil the administration’s budget proposal for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—which includes NIH, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other federal health agencies—HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the budget positions the country well for making future advances in biomedical research and health care. But the proposal will by no means please everyone, she acknowledged. (View the video archive of the press briefing online .)

“Years of deficits have put us in a position where we need to make some tough choices,” Secretary Sebelius said. “We looked closely at every program in the Department” to find areas where waste could be cut and programs could be redesigned “to put a new focus on results.” In some instances, she continued, the proposal cuts programs that would have been maintained “in better fiscal times.”

The increased funding for NIH will continue to open up new frontiers of research in areas such as cell-based therapies and genomics, offering new and more effective treatments for diseases such as cancer and autism, Secretary Sebelius predicted. The proposal will “allow our scientists to pursue these discoveries while keeping America at the forefront of biomedical research,” she said.

The budget proposal includes funding for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences , although precise budgetary figures for the new center are not yet available. The President’s proposal also includes $100 million for the Cures Acceleration Network, a program intended to focus on developing new therapies for diseases and conditions that are not being addressed by the private sector, explained NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins during the briefing. Congress has already authorized the Network’s establishment, but has not yet authorized funds to support it.

During a recent town hall meeting with NCI staff, NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus laid out the Institute’s funding priorities for FY 2011, which included maintaining the same number of new research grants, continued support for genomics initiatives, and implementing planned changes to NCI’s clinical trials program.

Congress will now take up the administration’s budget proposal as it sets spending levels for FY 2012. (View NCI’s funding priorities for FY 2012 online .) Republican leaders have called for setting government spending at 2008 levels, which could entail significant reductions for NIH. However, before those issues are settled, Congress must finish its work on appropriations for the current fiscal year. The continuing resolution under which the federal government is now operating expires on March 4.

Carmen Phillips

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