Leaders in Congress reached agreement late Sunday night to boost fiscal year 2017 funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $2 billion. Included is a $400 million increase for research into Alzheimer’s disease (AD). “If signed into law in a few days, that will be a doubling of Alzheimer’s research in just two years, which is absolutely remarkable,” said Robert Egge of the Alzheimer's Association, who is based in Washington D.C. “This clearly shows that Congress understands the importance of medical research.” The boost is welcome news in the field, especially coming on the heels of the President’s proposed 18 percent cut to the NIH for FY2018 (Mar 2017 news).

The appropriations bill  will come to a vote in Congress later this week. If signed into law, the more than $1 trillion FY2017 spending package will fund the federal government through September 30. NIH would receive a $34.1 billion piece of the pie, with federal spending on AD and related dementias climbing to $1.39 billion. These numbers roughly align with spending approved by both Senate and House appropriations committees last year (see Jun 2016 news; Jul 2016 news). Both demonstrated strong bipartisan support for expanding biomedical research.

The rationale for raising ADRD spending comes from the NIH’s bypass budget for FY2017, which called for a $323 million hike over FY2016 levels. Every year, as mandated in the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act of 2014, NIH makes this annual budget request directly to the President, who sends it to Congress. The request specifies the additional money needed to investigate priority areas of research, outlined in part by summit meetings held at NIH both on AD and related dementias (see Feb 2015 conference series; April 2016 conference series). The FY2018 bypass budget calls for a further $414 million above the FY2017 level.

An infusion of funds contrasts with a call from the Trump administration to cut FY2017 funding for NIH by $1.2 billion. “The administration’s perspective may lead to a helpful discussion about how we make sure that every dollar provided is used as productively as possible,” said Egge. “That may be where [the conversation] moves as the administration sees how squarely supportive Congress is on a bipartisan basis of these aggressive increases.” Egge was referring to indirect costs as a topic for future budgetary discussions. —Gwyneth Dickey Zakaib

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References

News Citations

  1. President Proposes Massive Cut to NIH; Potential Fallout for Alzheimer’s Unclear
  2. Possible Boost for U.S. Alzheimer’s Research on Horizon
  3. House Committee Votes to Boost AD Research Dollars

Conference Coverage Series Citations

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2015
  2. Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias 2016 Summit

External Citations

  1. appropriations bill
  2. NIH’s bypass budget
  3. call

Further Reading

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