Research groups scramble to head off deep cuts to NIH budget

With Congress focused on finding new ways to slash the federal budget, worries have been growing among the research groups which rely on the NIH that leaner times are in store for the future. The American Association for Cancer Research made its concerns clear when it released a report last week urging Congress to boost its support for the NIH by 8.6%, lifting its 2012 budget to $33.3 billion. This year the budget was cut by $312 million.

"It's the first time in as long as many people can remember that the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute's budgets have declined," AACR lobbyist John Retzlaff told Bloomberg.

A Senate panel, though, quickly dashed those hopes by signing off on a $190 million cut to the NIH. And some would be grateful if that's the worst that Congress does. "In the current environment, it could have been worse," Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, tells Science.

NIH chief Francis Collins has managed to keep lawmakers in back of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, a new division which is supporting more rapid translational work on biomedical research. The Senate bill also specifies that the NIH's National Center for Research Resources is being scrapped for parts.

- see the report from Bloomberg
- here's the story from Science
- read the Nature report