publication date: Mar. 7, 2014
By Matthew Bin Han Ong
President Barack Obama’s $3.9-trillion budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year would bump NIH funding up to $30.2 billion—a $200 million increase over fiscal 2014—and would include an additional $8 million for NCI, totaling $4.931 billion for the institute.
“There is not much in that budget that is surprising, or subject for applause, because [Obama] is operating under severe constraints,” NCI Director Harold Varmus said March 6 at a meeting of the Board of Scientific Advisors. “That increase is more for the NIH overall, in percentage terms, than the NCI, as there are certain programmatic assignments—called the earmarks, if you will—for the BRAIN initiative, for diabetes, for Alzheimer’s research.
“It means that NIH overall has a slightly higher number than NCI,” Varmus said. “Money is appreciated, I’m glad we didn’t take any further cuts, and it is the president’s proposal, which, if you follow the news, you know is a request from the president, which Congress may not honor in many respects, because there are tax changes built into it. Some folks think that none of those tax measures will ever get passed.
“I think we simply need to work as hard as we can with Congress to be sure that the president’s aspirations for NIH are not only met, but possibly exceeded,” Varmus said. “I’m probably not supposed to say that, but I think that’s what all of us would like to see happen.”
The added funding in Obama’s budget proposal, published March 4, reflects his recent call to reverse cuts made to basic research in the federal budget.
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