WASHINGTON -- National Institutes of Health researchers willnot be celebrating the proposed 1995 fiscal budget. Amongdesignated "priority programs," NIH was the loser, percentage-wise; from the 1993 baseline to the proposed budget for 1995,the agency's funding is slated to increase just 11.1 percent.

"In tight budget times, we had to make some tough choices,"Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said,presenting this year's discretionary budget for HHS at a pressconference on Monday. However, biomedical research did dobetter than a number of programs, for example, the LowIncome Home Energy Assistance Program.

In absolute dollars, NIH would gain only about half a billiondollars over 1994 out of an HHS-wide increase of more than$2.3 billion, sharing the small largesse with Head Start, childcare, family planning, Social Security, substance abusetreatment and prevention, and immunizations.

Of the entire $11.5 billion proposed for NIH, $2.7 billion wouldgo to AIDS. But only about half of this money would go forresearch, an increase of less than $100 million over last year.

Shalala admitted that "my own sense is the biomedicalcommunity will want something more." But "there is no newmoney to put in this budget, given where the caps are," shesaid.

Nonetheless, NIH would receive another $400 million fromhealth-care reform, said Shalala, which has its own budget ofmostly basic research funds "for unleashing the power ofprevention."

Funds for AIDS will be transferred to the various institutes ofNIH from the Office of AIDS Research to coordinate projects.

In addition, unding for human genome research will rise $23million to $152 million, "focusing on applying genometechnologies ... to find specific disease genes and to developgene-based technologies to test for, diagnose and treatinherited diseases," according to HHS.

The new budget would also include $51 million fortuberculosis, a tenfold increase over the fiscal 1991 budget,some of which would contribute to physical mapping, and DNAsequencing of the bacillus, as well as more drug-developmentefforts.

And funding of investigator-initiated research project grantswould increase by 7,293 grants to 23,891, the highest numberever.

The $400 million from health-care reform funds for preventionwould target "high-cost/debilitating diseases," such asAlzheimer's, children's health and breast cancer.

-- David Holzman Washington Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.