Advocates bemoan omnibus funding level for NIH

Health research advocates say that despite a funding increase, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cannot fully pursue its mission under the 2014 omnibus spending package.

The $1.012 trillion measure was released Monday night, and includes $29.93 billion for the NIH — an increase of about $1 billion over the agency's sequester-based budget.

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Advocacy alliance Research!America warned that despite this bump, the funding for the NIH will remain "below the level of scientific opportunity" and suggested the agency will have to forgo some projects as a result.

"We must eliminate sequestration once and for all, and grow our investment in NIH in order to slow and halt the progression of diseases and disabilities ranging from Alzheimer’s to diabetes to traumatic brain injury," the group's president, Mary Woolley, said in a statement.

The proposed $29.93 billion funding level for the NIH remains below the agency's peak 2010 level of $31.23 billion and is less than what advocates and the White House had hoped for.

In a boon to public health advocates, however, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control will both see funding increases of about 8 percent this year.

House leaders plan to bring the measure up for a vote on Wednesday, and Senate approval is expected before the weekend.

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