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NIH to Receive FY 2007 Funding Increase

The US House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) Wednesday, January 31, 2007, to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2007. The $463.5 billion appropriation—passed by a substantial bipartisan margin—must be approved by the Senate by February 15, 2007, when the current CR expires. While most agencies remain funded at the FY 2006 level, the House-passed resolution includes a $620 million increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Of the additional money allocated to NIH, $483 million will go directly to the common fund, officially established under the National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006 (PL 109-482). In the past, institutes and centers (ICs) at NIH provided a percentage of their budgets to common fund programs, such as the NIH Roadmap Initiative. As Congress specified a separate amount for the common fund, ICs, most of which received flat funding from FY 2006 in the CR, will in essence increase their funding dollars in FY 2007. While much of the common fund money has not been allocated to particular programs, $40 million will be directed to the new Junior Pioneer Awards. Like the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Program, these junior awards will fund high risk research with the potential for great impact but will offer smaller amounts of funding support and shorter award cycles.

Other programs within NIH to receive additional funding include the National Children’s Study (a $58 million increase over FY 2006) and the Office of the Director ($91 million). The latter support will go to new investigator research and will hopefully take pressure off ICs which are required to maintain their current level of awards to first-time investigators. ICs that increased their budgets are the National Library of Medicine ($5 million increase), the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities ($4 million increase), and the National Center for Research Resources ($34 million increase). Meanwhile, $7 million was apportioned to implement the initiatives authorized under the NIH Reform Act. Due to the additional funding, and the agency’s December 2006 policy change that disallowed inflationary adjustments for noncompeting renewal awards, an additional 970 research project grants can be funded in FY 2007 over FY 2006.

Other areas where additional funding was provided by the House CR include Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense health care and Pell education grants. The Senate could consider the CR as early as next week, though some Republican Senators are concerned about rules prohibiting the introduction of amendments and may slow the advancement of the bill. However, insiders suggest the CR will likely pass the Senate, as the alternative is the shutdown of the federal government. With the February 15 deadline fast approaching, there is little time for the House and Senate to convene a conference to negotiate differences between each chamber’s bill.

The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine—the nation’s largest academically focused specialty organization—consists of the Association of Professors of Medicine, the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, the Association of Subspecialty Professors, the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine, and the Administrators of Internal Medicine.