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NIH Receives Boost from Joint Funding Resolution

Congress voted to pass the fiscal year (FY) 2007 Joint Funding Resolution, providing a $620 million increase over FY 2006 levels for the NIH, as well as a $335 million increase to the National Science Foundation and a $200 million increase to the Department of Energy Office of Science.

The NIH said that $69 million, an increase of $58 million compared to 2006, will help support the National Children's Study, which follows 100,000 children from birth to age 21 across the US to examine the effects of environmental influences on their health and development. In addition, $91 million will support 1,500 new investigators, and an estimated 970 more research project grants than in 2006.

AAN Legislative Counsel Michael J. Amery told Neurology Today that the AAN is pleased with the move by Congress to increase funding for the NIH. “For 2007, this funding level should ensure that the NIH is able to push forward with research on neurological diseases as well as other research, rather than slipping backwards as it has in recent years.”

Among other changes, “NIH institutes and centers will no longer have to contribute to the Common Fund from their own appropriations as they have in the past,” said NINDS Director Story Landis, PhD. Instead, the Common Fund, which supports interdisciplinary and strategic initiatives at the NIH, will be funded directly through the Office of the Director.

She added that the Common Fund will grow from approximately 1.1 percent of the total NIH budget in FY 2006 to 1.7 percent in FY 2008, which will make more money available for medical research; $40 million will support the Junior Pioneer awards program.

The awards program supports individual scientists, rather than specific programs, allowing them to pursue highly creative approaches to biomedical problems. The program, which provides $2.5 million in direct costs over five years, has funded 35 investigators in its first three years. In September 2007, the NIH expects to award between five and ten new grants.

AAN members advocated for increased funding for NIH and NINDS — one of the top federal priorities for 2007 — on Capitol Hill, as part of its annual Neurology on the Hill advocacy event in 2006. According to Amery, 212 Academy members also used the AAN online advocacy system by e-mailing or faxing their congressional offices to express their support for increased NIH funding.

“Increased funding for NIH and NINDS will again be a top legislative priority for the AAN in 2007 and will be one of the issues that more than 100 neurologists will take to Congress during the next Neurology on the Hill event in March,” Amery said.