Tag Archives: NIH

Republican-led Senate proposes big budget boost for NIH

This is fiscal restraint? The Senate, under the leadership of the Republican party for the first time since 2006, has proposed a $2 billion increase in the 2016 budget for National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The House Republican leadership hasn’t shown much restraint either, proposing $1 billion boost in the 2016 budget. And this in the context of a flat budget for NIH during the period from 2006 to 2014 when Democrats controlled either both or at least one house of Congress.

Since Congress completed a 5-year doubling of the NIH budget in 2003, the agency’s funding level has fallen more than 20% below the 2003 level after taking into account the rising costs of biomedical research.

This is once again evidence to me that the Republican leadership in Congress really has little interest in reining in the out-of-control federal budget. They talk a conservative game during elections, but when it comes time to write the budgets, the Republicans in charge of committees become spendthrifts to support the pork in the government agencies they are assigned to manage, and are almost always centered in their own districts.

$28 billion spent on poor biomedical research?

The uncertainty of science: A new study suggests that $28 billion is spent on biomedical research that no one can reproduce.

I have no doubt that a vast amount of medical research is so poorly done that no one else will ever be able to replicate the results. However, the article notes that the way the researchers came up with the $28 billion figure is quite questionable, reviewing only about two dozen studies and then extrapolating their numbers across the entire research field. This is highly uncertain and should be taken with a grain of salt.

NIH panel recommends cancelling multi-billion dollar study

An government advisory panel has recommended the NIH cancel a controversial nationwide study to track the health of 100,000 children.

The study has already cost one billion, has had two scientists resign because they didn’t like how the study was being run, and has as yet only enrolled 4,000 children.

Update: The NIH officially cancelled the study later the same day the panel’s report was released.

The journal Science struggles to find the harm done from NIH’s 5% cuts from sequestration.

The journal Science struggles to find the harm done to NIH from sequestration’s 5% cut.

Given that sequestration lopped off a staggering $1.55 billion from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) budget this year, it shouldn’t be hard to find examples of how the cut is harming research labs. Although sequestration “has already dealt a devastating blow,” said NIH Director Francis Collins at a Senate hearing last week, it turns out it’s not that easy to spell out the damage.

First of all, this cut was hardly “staggering.” All it did was bring NIH’s budget down to $29.15 billion, which is almost exactly the budget the agency had in 2008. Somehow, NIH managed quite well with this amount of money in 2008, and in fact probably wasted quite a bit of cash even then.

Second, this fact — that the cut wasn’t really that “devastating” — might explain why Science can’t find any obvious damage to any program. In its budget articles the journal routinely makes it a point to lobby for more money for scientists. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised when it tries to spin any cut — or even a small reduction in the rate of growth — as a disaster. The fact that Science still has trouble making that spin seem believable in this case is solid evidence that sequestration was a good idea, and that there was a great deal of fat that could be trimmed from the budget.

The science cuts from sequestration

The journal Science today published this detailed look at the cuts that would occur in all the federal government’s various science programs should the automatic budget cuts outlined in the sequestration legislation occur on January 2, 2013.

Not surprising, the article includes a great deal of moaning and groaning about the terrible harm the cuts would have on science research should they occur. From the Obama administration:
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A U.S. senator has demanded the NIH explain how it could give a $2 million grant to a researcher previously punished for not reporting financial conflicts of interest who is also under investigation by the Department of Justice.

Corruption in Big Science: A U.S. senator is demanding the NIH explain how it could give a $2 million grant to a researcher previously punished for not reporting financial conflicts of interest who is also under investigation by the Department of Justice.

Shut it down

Our government in action: An NIH nationwide study to track hundreds of thousands of children from birth to age 21 is wracked with budget and management problems.

All told, this study has already cost the taxpayers almost a billion dollars for the enrollment of only 4,000 children, not the 100,000 envisioned. That’s about $250,000 per child, an amount that seems incredibly high.

In addition to the above problems, it appears there are scientific ones as well:
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NIH and DOE in the proposed budget deal

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the science office in the Department of Energy (DOE) appear to avoid serious cuts in the proposed budget deal.

Actually, NIH’s budget remains almost identical to what it got in 2012, $30.6 billion. However, this amount is $1.4 billion more than it got in 2008, and $1.7 billion more than it got in 2007. As for DOE’s Office of Science, the $4.889 billion for 2012 is still $700 million more than the office got in 2008.

In other words, considering the budget deficits the federal government faces, these 2012 budget numbers hardly seem to be a reasonable attack on the problem. Simply bringing those budget numbers back down to 2008 numbers would hardly damage the work these government agencies are doing, and it would surely do more to reduce the deficit.

House proposes a budget increase for NIH

The Republican-controlled House has proposed a budget for National Institutes of Health (NIH) that is one billion more than last year’s budget, an increase from $30.7 to $31.7 billion.

What evil budget-cutters these Republicans are! Their mean-spirited budget increase has the nerve to reduce Obama’s budget request by about $120 million, equivalent to a whopping one third of one percent!

This is all shameful. For context, in 2008 NIH’s budget was $29.2 billion. Considering the state of the budget it seems unconscionable for the House to agree to any increase over $30.7 billion. In truth, it is perfectly reasonable to reduce NIH’S budget back to its 2008 number.

Too bad our present Congress, both Democratic and Republican, isn’t reasonable.

Senate panel trims NIH budget

Now for some good reporting: A Senate committee today approved an NIH budget that trimmed the health agency’s budget by $190 million.

This report actually gives us an accurate description of the proposed budget, which offers a 2012 budget of $30.5 billion compared to the $30.7 that NIH got in 2011. For further context, note that the 2012 budget is still more than the agency got in 2009 ($30.2 billion), and more than a billion above what it got in 2008 ($29.2 billion). Anyone who cries poverty at this budget cut immediately discredits themselves.