Budget tightening raises concerns at NCI

A variety of groups are criticizing efforts by the Bush administration to slice spending at the National Cancer Institute by 1 percent. The move would represent the second year in a row for cuts at the NCI. Top researchers say that the strategy could ultimately undercut the quality of research in oncology at the same time progress in the field is cutting the number of deaths from cancer in the U.S. for the first time. The head of the NCI, John Niederhuber (photo), is concerned that he could lose up to 10 percent of his budget by ax-wielding legislators. Members of the administration, though, note that overall spending at the NCI has doubled in the past 10 years.

The latest news comes on top of a report that NIH Director Elias Zerhouni is pooling five percent of its money into a special fund supporting research that cuts across the NIH's research groups. Fears are being raised that some of the internal fiefdoms at the NIH could lose big if Zerhouni gains power over the budget.

- read the report on the NCI from USA Today

ALSO: The biomedical group FASEB is calling for enough government funds to make up for inflation in their field. Cutbacks at the NIH, they say, threaten the country's leading position in biotechnology. Report