|Senate Democrats Unveil FY 2023 Spending Bills, Including Proposal of $47 Billion for the NIH Base Budget
|On July 28, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released drafts of the committee’s 12 fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending bills. The draft Labor-HHS spending bill would provide $47 billion for the NIH base budget in FY 2023, a $2 billion (4.5%) increase in existing NIH institutes and centers compared to the president’s proposed $275 million increase and the House committee’s $2.5 billion increase. The bill also provides a $1 billion investment in the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health “as a standalone agency within NIH” (same funding level as FY 2022), which would be available through Sept. 30, 2025. This results in what the committee reported as a total program level of $48 billion for the NIH in FY 2023.
|The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research issued a July 29 press statement in response to the Senate draft bill, recognizing a proposed eighth straight year of funding growth for the NIH and urging expeditious passage of robust funding growth for the agency. “To make continued progress against the myriad diseases and disorders affecting patients across this country, prepare for future public health threats, and support the research workforce and local economies, it will be essential to maximize the nation’s investment in medical research,” the coalition stated.
|The House did not advance its Labor-HHS spending bill to floor consideration before leaving for August recess. Neither chamber is expected to take additional action on their FY 2023 spending bills until after members return from recess in September, when lawmakers likely will need to pass a continuing resolution. Funding for the current fiscal year is set to expire on Sept. 30.
|NIH Discovery Reveals Details About Rare Eye Disorder
|A July 28 blog post examines how the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the NIH, has used a new imaging technique to determine that retinal lesions from vitelliform macular dystrophy (VMD) vary by gene mutation. VMD is an inherited genetic disease that causes progressive vision loss through degeneration of the light-sensing retina. “The NEI’s long-term investment in imaging technology is changing our understanding of eye diseases. This study is just one example of how improved imaging can reveal subtle details about pathology in a rare eye disease that can inform the development of therapeutics,” said NEI Director Michael F. Chiang, M.D.
|NIA Statement on Amyloid Beta Protein Dementia Research
|In a July 29 statement, the Director of the National Institute of Aging (NIA), Richard J. Hodges, MD, reviewed NIA’s Alzheimer’s Disease research portfolio, including work on the amyloid beta protein (Aβ). Hodes noted the institute’s increasing diversity of research approaches, including studies investigating genetic and environmental causes “as well as the involvement of inflammation, fat droplets, the vascular system …and much more.” Hodes added, “Of NIA-funded late-phase clinical trials relevant to Alzheimer’s, five of eight are focused on amyloid, contrasted with only 13 of 61 early phase trials.”
|NIH Amongst Agencies Receiving Recommendations from GAO on Research Reliability
|In a July 28 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shared recommendations suggesting that NIH and other research agencies implement practices to increase research transparency and rigor. The study reported that the NIH, National Science Foundation, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration do not evaluate the rigor and transparency of the research they fund to help identify strategies for improvement, thus putting the agencies at an information disadvantage when making changes to the grant making process and research funding priorities.
|GAO presented two recommendations to the NIH: to collect information on relevant indicators of rigor to assess the research projects the agency funds, and implement steps, as needed, to promote strong research practices in future work; and the NIH should take steps to collect information to determine whether current policies and requirements are adequate to achieve transparency by ensuring research results and data are findable, accessible, and usable, and implement programmatic or policy changes, if needed.