President Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion budget for the 2014 federal fiscal year offers small overall increases for NIH and FDA, but sizeable jumps in programs reflecting the administration’s biopharma priorities.
Obama is seeking $31.331 billion in overall program level funding for NIH, up just 1.5% from the $30.852 billion spent during FY 2012. However, the NIH spending plan would deliver a 14% increase in the number of “new and competing” research project grants, a nearly 16% jump in spending on NIH’s translational medicine center, a 4% rise in stipends for postdoctoral trainees, and new spending on Alzheimer’s disease and brain mapping.
NIH said it planned to award 36,610 research project grants in FY 2014 costing $16.932 billion, just 351 more grants (and 2% in dollars) than FY 2012. The grants number includes 10,269 new and competing grants, 1,283 more than two years ago. The cost of new-and-competing grants will zoom almost 24% or $902.958 million, to $4.685 billion.
Another double-digit increase is in store for NIH’s National Center to Advance Translational Science (NCATS). The center—launched two years ago by NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.—would see funding jump almost 16% from FY 2012 (and 4% from Obama’s still-pending FY 2013 budget proposal), to $665.688 million. Within NCATS, the Cures Acceleration Network, created to fund programs addressing scientific and technical challenges of translational research, would grow to $50 million from the current $40 million.
Obama’s budget would raise stipends for entry-level postdoctoral trainees and fellows to $42,000, with 4% increases for each subsequent level of experience. The increase would be part of the National Research Service Awards program, whose funding will rise 1.8% from FY 2012, to $775.975 million—though the number of trainees supported would dip by 108, to 16,197.
Decreasing as well, by 6.4%, would be research center grant funding, to $2.846 billion. However, NIH shifted about $67.9 million of the $194.5 million difference to its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), toward grants to establish multi-project translational research centers in biodefense and emerging infectious diseases research. Another $51.3 million of the drop reflected planned reductions within the Protein Capture, Human Microbiome, Molecular Libraries, and Bioinformatics and Computational Biology programs.
The budget also formalized previously announced new spending on priority programs: $40 million for the brain mapping initiative announced by Obama on April 2, and $100 million to expand Alzheimer’s disease research, for which NIH has estimated it will spend $562 million on research.