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NIH headed for $2 billion funding boost

NIH headed for $2 billion funding boost
© NIH

The National Institutes of Health would receive a funding boost of about $2 billion in this year’s Senate health spending bill, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

This year’s spending bill, which will be publicly released Tuesday, would grow the agency’s total budget to about $34 billion, the source said.

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The boost to the NIH’s funding is the result of bipartisan negotiations between Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE (R-Mo.), who leads the Senate subcommittee on health funding, and his counterpart, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate GOP blocks bill to combat gender pay gap OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps program: exclusive MORE (D-Wash.).

Both offices declined to comment on the NIH funding levels, which will come up before a Senate panel on Tuesday.

Research advocates said Monday they’re ecstatic about the proposed increase, which exceeds President Obama's own request by about $3 billion. Still, some are concerned about whether the extra money will come from other health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s an amazing number. But the devil’s in the details,” said Ellie Dehoney, the vice president for policy and advocacy for Research!America. “So far, so amazing.”

The spending bill also includes about $300 million for President Obama’s precision medicine initiative, an increase of about $100 million.  

It would also add about $126 million for the health department's opioid anti-abuse programs and about $53 million to combat antibiotic resistance, according to a document circulated Monday.

Senate GOP leaders have made clear this year they planned to boost funding for health research, particularly in broadly bipartisan areas like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

The Senate bill also includes about $400 million more for Alzheimer’s research, the Alzheimer’s Association disclosed in a statement Monday.  

Cancer research has also become a top priority item for the Obama administration. Vice President Biden took the lead on the effort after his son died of brain cancer last year.

The Senate bill would mark the second year in a row that the NIH receives a $2 billion funding boost. Last year, the agency received its largest budget increase in 12 years.

This story was updated at 6:09 p.m.