Obama Unveils FY2017 Budget; Society Disappointed in NIH Decreases

The Obama administration unveiled its annual budget proposal on February 9. The budget proposal would give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) $33.1 billion, a 2.6% raise over 2016. The money would include $680 million for Vice President Biden’s cancer moonshot; $100 million more for the Precision Medicine Initiative’s 1-million-person cohort study; and $45 million in added funds for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative. However, the new money for these presidential priorities plus $1 billion from NIH’s existing budget would come out of so-called mandatory funds, which require Congress to establish a dedicated funding stream and would likely be a hard sell in Congress.

The Endocrine Society will continue to advocate for increased appropriations needed to put the NIH back on a sustainable growth path.

In addition, even if that money came through, aside from the three targeted programs, all of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers except the National Cancer Institute would receive a 0% increase. The number of research grants funded would rise by 600 to 36,440, but new and competing would drop by 807 grants to 9,946. As a result, NIH expects the success rate, or the portion of reviewed grants that receive funding, to drop from 19.2% to 17.5%.

Where We Stand: The Endocrine Society is extremely concerned about the impact of the proposed budget on investigator-initiated research and worries about the ability to establish a mandatory funding stream. While we appreciate that President Obama’s overall goal is to increase funding for biomedical research, we are disappointed his proposed budget would actually decrease the baseline funding level for the NIH in FY2017. Further, while we commend the president’s inclusion of funding to support cancer-related research activities, we are disappointed that the proposed budget reduces funding for research aimed at diabetes and a host of other endocrine-related diseases affecting our nation’s health. The Endocrine Society will continue to advocate for increased appropriations needed to put the NIH back on a sustainable growth path, make up for more than a decade of flat funding, and continue the important progressed gained by last year’s $2 billion increase for the NIH.

Next Steps: The President’s Budget is just a starting point for funding decisions. Attention now will shift to the House and Senate appropriations committees. The Endocrine Society will continue to advocate strongly for NIH funding. Please visit the Endocrine Society’s online advocacy campaign to urge Congress to support biomedical research funding.

Becker is the Chief Policy Officer at the Endocrine Society.

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