Public Affairs

FY 2012 Spending Debate Ends

On December 16, the House voted to adopt the conference agreement for a nine-bill FY 2012 spending package (H.R. 2055, H. Rept. 112-331) that includes funding for programs at the Department of Health and Human Services under Division F. Most programs under Division F are subject to a 0.189% rescission. Prior to the across-the-board cut, the conference agreement appropriates $30.690 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase of $1.7 million over FY 2011. The agreement does not include any transfer of NIH funding to the Global HIV/AIDS fund; all FY 2012 funding for the fund is included in the State-Foreign Operations portion of the conference agreement (Division I). As a result, the NIH program level for FY 2012 is $30.698 billion, which is $299 million over FY 2011.

The conference agreement includes language to implement the creation of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and eliminate the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), transferring the various NCRR programs to other institutes and centers. The conferees also provide NCATS with up to $10 million for the Cures Acceleration Network.

The House also voted to approve two other measures as part of the spending package: H.R. 3672, which provides $8.1 billion in disaster relief funding; and H. Con. Res. 94, which offsets the disaster aid. If the Senate also adopts H. Con. Res. 94, most FY 2012 base discretionary spending, including NIH, would be subject to an additional 1.83% across-the-board cut.

Links to the bill text and Joint Statement of the Managers are available on the House Rules Committee site: http://rules.house.gov/Legislation/legislationDetails.aspx?NewsID=667.

NIH Establishes National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

In a move to re-engineer the process of translating scientific discoveries into new drugs, diagnostics, and devices, NIH has established the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The action was made possible by Congress’ approval of a fiscal year 2012 spending bill and the president’s signing of the bill, which includes the establishment of NCATS with a budget of $575 million.

The following programs, as described by NIH, will comprise NCATS:

  • Bridging Interventional Development Gaps, which makes available critical resources needed for the development of new therapeutic agents;
     
  • Clinical and Translational Science Awards, which fund a national consortium of medical research institutions working together to improve the way clinical and translational research is conducted nationwide;
     
  • Cures Acceleration Network, which enables NCATS to fund research in new and innovative ways;
     
  • FDA-NIH Regulatory Science, an interagency partnership that aims to accelerate the development and use of better tools, standards, and approaches for developing and evaluating diagnostic and therapeutic products;
     
  • Office of Rare Diseases Research, which coordinates and supports rare diseases research;
     
  • Components of the Molecular Libraries, which is an initiative that provides researchers with access to the large-scale screening capacity necessary to identify compounds that can be used as chemical probes to validate new therapeutic targets; and
     
  • Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases, which is a program to encourage and speed the development of new drugs for rare and neglected diseases.

The budget for NCATS is primarily a reallocation of funds from programs previously located in the NIH Office of the Director, National Human Genome Research Institute, and National Center for Research Resources.

To learn more about the impetus and development of NCATS, go to:

NCATS web page: http://www.nih.gov/about/director/ncats/index.htm

NCATS on the Feedback NIH website: http://feedback.nih.gov/index.php/category/ncats/

Research Shows Opposition to Medical Research Funding Cuts

Data from a new survey of 800 registered voters shows considerable opposition among Americans to cutting federal funding for medical research. When asked about cuts to medical research funding, more than six out of 10 voters (62%) oppose significant cuts in federal funding for medical research, while 34% favor these cuts. By almost a three-to-one margin, there is stronger opposition to cuts in medical research funding than there is strong support. The survey was conducted via telephone on November 16–20, 2011, by Public Opinion Strategies for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Additional information about the survey, including a link to the full report, is available at: www.aamc.org/newsroom/newsreleases/269064/111209a.html.

 

February 2012 Table of Contents