NIH chief lobbies Congress for $32B biomedical research budget

Francis Collins (photo) went to Capitol Hill a few days ago to spell out his vision for the NIH, and he did his level best to paint a compelling picture for the lawmakers who will decide the ultimate fate of the institute's 2011 budget.

At stake is $32.2 billion, a war chest that Collins adamantly wants to fund a variety of key initiatives: better and more personalized therapies, stem cell research and his old love genomics, among others. Appointed in 2009 to run the NIH, which plays a huge role as the nation's primary backer of cutting-edge research programs under way throughout the U.S., Collins insisted that the agency is making major progress on some big fields in biomedical research.

"I found many of the most exciting opportunities could be grouped under five main themes: taking greater advantage of high-throughput technologies; accelerating translational science, that is, turning discovery into health; helping to reinvent health care; focusing more on global health; and reinvigorating the biomedical research community."

Collins also wanted to highlight what taxpayers had already paid for, with the five-year-old Cancer Genome Atlas receiving star billing. When completed, the atlas will provide a comprehensive overview of the genomic changes involving 20 major types and subtypes of cancer. And researchers have delivered a treasure trove of new insights on genetics and disease.

- here's the story from Genome Web