NIH up for budget increase, releases strategic plan

NIH to receive $2 billion budget increase

A massive federal spending bill released on Dec. 16 provides the National Institutes of Health with a $2 billion funding increase, the agency’s first raise in more than 12 years. The bill was passed on Dec. 18.

The bill provides the following for medical and healthcare-related research:

  • $200 million to the Obama administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative
  • $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research
  • $85 million increase for the BRAIN Initiative
  • $303 million additional funds towards efforts to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • $91 million, a nearly 300 percent increase, toward programs to reduce opioid abuse

A few key elements of the bill were changed from the initial proposal after a period of negotiation. The version released today puts the Affordable Care Act’s medical device tax on hold for two years; excludes a provision to reign in FDA regulation on e-cigarettes by limiting pre-market reviews, designed to determine whether a product is safe; and leaves restrictions on CDC gun violence research in place.

Several other federal agencies involved in medical or healthcare related research received funding increases. For a full report, click here.

NIH Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health also released the NIH –Wide Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2016-2020: Turning Discovery Into Health. The strategic plan was  developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, scientific advisors, and NIH leadership. NIH solicited input through a Request for Information, which generated more than 450 responses; a series of interactive webinars, which attracted more than 750 participants; and meetings with 21 NIH advisory councils, including the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director. (The plan was written before the funding increase was announced and does not spell out how the funds could be used and distributed.)

The four main objectives of the plan are to:

  • Continue to advance biomedical research in fundamental science, treatment and cures, and health promotion and disease prevention
  • Foster innovation by setting NIH priorities to enhance nimbleness and high risk, high reward research opportunities
  • Enhance and expand a diverse, well-educated and -trained biomedical research workforce
  • Strengthen NIH as a federal science agency by applying the scientific method to itself – learning and implementing in a rigorous way how best to support biomedical research.

The plan also lays out specific achievements that NIH will be working toward over the next five years:

  • NIH-supported clinical trials will show that at least half-dozen interventions thought to be clinically beneficial actually have no value.
  • A pivotal efficacy trial of a novel HIV vaccine, expected to begin in the Republic of South African in 2016, will confer at least 50% protection against the acquisition of HIV.
  • A wearable biosensor for monitoring blood-alcohol levels in real time will be developed and show efficacy for preventing alcohol-related injury and disease.

According to the NIH, this strategic plan is considered a living document that is open to changes as NIH leadership evaluates progress in meeting these objectives and achievements.  Download the plan here.