Last month, researchers from some of the nation’s top academic and medical institutions and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approached the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to request increased federal funding for biomedical research. Although the budget for NIH more than doubled from $13 billion in 1998 to $27 billion in 2003, for biomedical research, appropriations have remained static for the past few years. This not only limits recruitment and development of young, promising scientists but also slows the progress of important research, asserted the group.
On March 19, 2007, NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD, gave testimony, accompanied by a slide presentation, “NIH: A Vision for the Future.”
“Let me emphasize—we are at a critical point in biomedical research and must maintain the momentum to reach our vision,” said Zerhouni.
In addition, the researchers appearing before the Senate Committee submitted a that emphasized the crucial impact of NIH funding on researchers. Younger researchers must now wait approximately seven years longer to receive their first grant than did their counterparts decades ago. According to the report, the average age that a scientist received his or her first grant has increased from 34.2 years old in 1970 to 41.7 years old in 2007.
“You spend money to get the best and brightest minds to your institution, and you depend on them to get funding once they get there,” said Gilbert White II, MD, executive vice president for research at the BloodCenter of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and director of the Blood Research Institute.
The Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies held a hearing on March 26, 2007, to address this section of the NIH budget.
Source: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 26, 2007