As you may have read, President Trump recently signed into law a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package that funds the government for the remainder of federal fiscal year 2018. To the delight of many in the science community, this legislation provides a $3 billion, or greater than 8 percent, increase to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a total of $37.1 billion. The agreement was finalized after Congress extended temporary funding for the government five times and passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which raises budgetary spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary spending in both FYs 18 and 19.
Every NIH institute will receive roughly a five percent increase above FY 2017 funding — well above biomedical inflation. Importantly, this is the third year of meaningful growth for the NIH and a welcome investment, considering President Trump’s FY18 budget proposal to dramatically cut the NIH and support for facilities and administrative expenses.
Examples of increases in NIH research initiatives include:
- $1.8 billion (+$414 million) for Alzheimer’s disease research;
- $543 million (+27 million) for Clinical and Translational Science Awards;
- $500 million for targeted research on opioid addiction, including $250 million for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and $250 million for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA);
- $400 million (+$140 million) for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative;
- $351 million (+17 million) for research on combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria;
- $300 million for the Cancer Moonshot;
- $290 million (+$60 million) for the All of Us research initiative (formerly called the Precision Medicine Initiative);
- $100 million (+$40 million) for research to develop a universal flu vaccine;
- $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller “Kids First” pediatric cancer research initiative; and
- $10 million (+$8 million) for regenerative medicine research.
The bill also supports a new multi-year Down syndrome research initiative that will expand NIH support for research on Trisomy 21 and related diseases and disorders.
This month, the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees that oversee NIH funding will begin their FY19 budget process, including holding hearings from Members of Congress and outside public witnesses on programmatic funding levels. I wish to share the letter I wrote to Rep. Scott Taylor, Virginia’s only member of the House Appropriations Committee, asking him to make the NIH a funding priority in FY19 because of the health and economic value that NIH funding brings to the Commonwealth. Our government relations team is also reaching out to Virginia’s congressional representatives to remind them that $377 million in NIH grants and contracts to UVA and other Virginia institutions brings 5,765 direct and indirect jobs to the Commonwealth and provides over $1 billion in economic activity.
Faculty can have a part to play in this, too. Your voice can be a powerful amplification to our current advocacy efforts in articulating why the NIH should receive sustainable and predictable funding. Should you be traveling to Washington, DC, this spring or summer for peer-review or professional association meetings and wish to meet with our Congressional delegation, I encourage you to contact Sally Barber or Lynne Boyle in the Office of Special Advisor and State and Federal Relations. If Sally or Lynne knows of your arrival in Washington, she can help coordinate efforts to share your message on research. Dr. Tim Rosean, a postdoctoral research associate studying immunology and lupus as part of Dr. Loren Erickson’s lab recently did, and was happy to lend his voice to the conversation.
If you do participate, drop me a note upon your return. I look forward to hearing about your visit.
David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science