Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The American Physiological Society (APS) applauds the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee for its continued support for medical research. Under the leadership of Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), the Subcommittee recommended $30.723 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the fiscal year starting October 1 (FY 2013). According to APS President Dr. Susan M. Barman, “The Subcommittee’s recommendation for a modest increase in funding to NIH, in a climate in which budget cuts have become the norm, is a good first step toward advancing NIH’s critical work of supporting basic biomedical research and training the next generation of researchers.” Prior research funded by the NIH has saved many lives and bettered countless others. Thanks in part to NIH-funded discoveries, patients benefit from less invasive cancer treatments, therapies to prevent heart attack and stroke, and much more.
Nevertheless, a $30.723 billion NIH budget would still leave many promising lines of research unfunded. Some estimates suggest that the available opportunities could easily justify an NIH budget of $35 billion. Additionally, because of the rising costs of doing research, $30.723 billion actually reflects a decrease in NIH’s purchasing power and therefore less funding for investigator initiated research. NIH-funded research is crucial because it produces discoveries that save lives and improves the quality of life. NIH also plays an important role in training the next generation of scientists so maintaining the current funding level will affect the scientific workforce for many years to come. “NIH’s work is too valuable to be hindered by insufficient funding,” Barman said. “To prevent loss of research and training capacity and begin a program of sustainable growth, NIH needs a budget of at least $32 billion in FY 2013.”