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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 BluntMicrosoft, FireEye push for breach reporting rules after SolarWinds hack Biden's unity effort falters On The Trail: Trump threatens a Tea Party redux MORE (R-Mo.), who leads the Senate subcommittee on health funding, and his counterpart, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBiden health nominee faces first Senate test Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March The Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing 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.