In January, the President signed the bill to fund the U.S. government and the NIH for fiscal year 2014. This budget provides excellent news on a number of fronts: despite the tough economic times, NIH receives $1 billion over our FY 2013 appropriation, providing some welcome relief from the worst of the across-the-board cuts caused by sequestration. For NINDS, this translates into a budgetary increase of 3.6%, or almost $55 Million. This will strengthen our ability to support exciting science about the fundamental workings of the brain and nervous system, as well as fund important translational and clinical research focused on combating neurological disease.
We have just released our funding plan for FY 2014. We are committed to maximizing our support for investigator-initiated research, and that commitment drives many of our decisions. For example, we will reduce most noncompeting RPG and Center award budgets by 1.0% for FY 2014 (down from the 3.5% reduction in FY 2013). This will allow us to maintain a funding payline at the 14th percentile.
We are very aware that despite these efforts, our funding payline is too low. There are many outstanding applications that we won’t be able to fund, any one of which could yield a critical advance. We are also aware that despite the welcome increase, our FY 2014 budget is less than the one we had in FY 2012. It is helpful to remember that NIH funding has oscillated, sometimes dramatically, for decades. In the early 1970’s, President Nixon impounded all NIH research training funds for almost two years before they were ultimately restored by an act of Congress in 1975. The late 1990s featured a bipartisan effort to double the NIH budget from $14 billion to $28 billion by 2004.
Today, NIH enjoys the support of the administration and both sides of the aisle in Congress. The BRAIN initiative℠ offers a good example; launched by the President in April, Congress affirmed its strong support for the initiative by appropriating funds to the NIH Institutes and Centers – including NINDS – to help defray their commitment to funding BRAIN initiative research in FY 2014. In addition, the newly released FY 2015 President’s Budget requests additional resources for the BRAIN initiative: $100 M overall and ~$25 M for NINDS to invest. While the President’s budget is just the beginning of the negotiations for the FY 2015 appropriation, the bi-partisan support for the BRAIN initiative is very encouraging.
The strength of support for this initiative – and for NINDS overall - reflects the impressive contributions of NINDS-funded investigators to the understanding of the nervous system and its disorders, the excitement of neuroscience research, and the collegiality of the neuroscience community. In these uncertain budgetary times, I want to thank you for your commitment to our mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.
Last updated March 7, 2014