Republicans probe PR spending at NIH

"With increasingly tight federal budgets, every dollar invested at the NIH becomes even more precious," the group wrote.

The letter raised specific concerns about communications spending at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which was criticized in an editorial last month published in the journal Nature.

According to that piece, the NCI spent $45 million on public relations activities in 2012, or enough to fund more than 100 research grants.

The lawmakers asked for a reply from Collins by April 25.

In addition to Upton, the letter came from Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnBlackburn pushes back on potential Corker bid: 'I'm going to win' Nervous GOP seeks new 2018 Senate candidates in three states Corker 'listening closely' to calls to reconsider retirement MORE (R-Tenn.), Energy and Commerce Committee vice chairman; Joe Barton (R-Texas), the panel's chairman emeritus, Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessDems push for hearing on funding gun violence research 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help Puerto Rico Rep.: Budget deal will fully fund Puerto Rico Medicaid for two years MORE (R-Texas), who lead the panel's health subcommittee; and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Rodney Alexander (R-La.), who lead the Appropriations subcommittee that governs the federal health department.