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Groups Urge $34.1B NIH Budget for Precision Medicine, Research

Industry groups told Congress that enacting the $34.1 billion NIH budget is "essential" for furthering precision medicine and research initiatives.

By Nathan Boroyan

- Continued progress with precision medicine, population health, and other critical research activities depends on securing the proposed $34.1 billion budget for the National Institutes of Health, according to more than 200 patient advocacy groups, healthcare societies, researchers, and academic institutions.

Precision medicine and medical research funding

In a letter delivered to Congressional leaders and the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research argues that adequate funding for NIGH activities is necessary to avoid serious consequences.

"Our organizations strongly support an approach to the final FY 2017 spending package that maximizes the federal support for NIH and avoids a long-term continuing resolution (CR)," the letter says. "Aside from the budget implications, a long-term CR would create inefficiencies and add uncertainty to a system that is already under stress. We strongly urge lawmakers to make finalizing the FY 2017 appropriations a priority."

Congress increased NIH funding in FY 2016. However, small cuts over the past decade have reduced the agency's purchasing power by 22 percent, "which could lead to delays in promising research or discourage young scientists from entering the field," the letter says.

"Continuing the momentum of your FY 2016 investment in NIH is key to ensuring that the nation can continue to accelerate the development of life-changing cures, pioneering treatments, and innovative preventive strategies," the document continued.

In their letter, the group called bipartisan commitment to increasing funding for the NIH "essential in enabling researchers at universities and research institutions in all 50 states to pursue emerging scientific opportunities to address the nation's most pressing health needs."  

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved the $34.1 billion budget in June. The bill represented a $2 billion increase over 2016 levels, which would help to fund precision medicine research, chronic disease management and prevention programs, and antibiotic resistance activities. While the pending budget bill would be a welcome addition to the nation's scientific community, Congress has yet to greenlight the funding.

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