By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama said, “NIH funding should be a priority and that its benefits extend well beyond its research discoveries.” Sen. Shelby remarks were made at a Subcommittee hearing on the National Institutes of Health Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Proposal. Sen. Shelby is the ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
Senator Shelby said, “For the millions of Americans suffering from a serious illness, biomedical research is the beginning of hope. NIH-funded research investigates ways to prevent disease, understand its causes, and develop more effective treatments.”
Sen. Shelby said, “The proposed budget for NIH is $30.86 billion, which is claimed to be level funding from Fiscal Year 2012. However, this amount does not take into account the additional funding the Department of Health and Human Services requested for Department-wide evaluation activities. If this so-called “evaluation tap” is agreed to, it will reduce the NIH budget by $215 million, bringing the budget request below the Fiscal Year 2012 level. Further, the Administration’s request does not keep pace with biomedical research inflation. As a result, in inflationary adjusted dollars, the NIH is 17 percent below where they were 10 years ago.”
Sen. Shelby said, “In 2011, NIH research funding supported of 432,092 jobs nationwide. Research carried out by the NIH and its network of 325,000 researchers at 3,000 institutions across the country serves the nation with the goal of improving human health.”
Sen. Shelby continued, “As Congress faces unprecedented challenges to reduce government spending, we must all face the consequences of tough choices. Certainly these are difficult times, but I believe biomedical research is a necessary and worthy investment in the health of our people and the vitality of our communities. Funding for the NIH lays the foundation for drug and device discoveries over the next decade. Biomedical research is the answer to lowering our nation’s health care costs. This is not the time to abandon our commitment to the health of all Americans and the NIH.” “Without sustained support for the NIH, the translation of discoveries from “bench to bedside” will be dramatically slowed and the US will surrender its role as the world leader in scientific research.”
Senator Shelby also expressed concerns about changes that the NIH had made in how grants were awarded particularly the reduction in average grant size and a hard cap of $1.5 million in grant money to a particular researcher. Sen. Shelby objected to the grant cap on the grounds that grant awards should be based entirely on merit.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH is the world’s largest source of medical research funds. NIH funded medical research make important discoveries that improve health and save lives. Since 1900 Americans’ average life expectancy has climbed from 47 to 78. Americans today live longer and healthier lives thanks in large part to NIH-funded medical research.
To read Senator Shelby’s statement: