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Bullet policy · Jun 21, 2021

NIH Slated for 21 Percent Budget Increase

The President has proposed a $52 billion budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in fiscal year (FY) 2022. This translates to a $9 billion or 21 percent increase in the agency’s funding compared to FY 2021.

Of the $9 billion increase proposed for NIH, $6.5 billion would go towards establishing a new agency—the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H)—to spur transformational health research innovation and accelerate medical breakthroughs by addressing ambitious challenges that require large-scale, sustained, and cross-sector coordination. Modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the new agency would fund high risk, high-reward research to deliver cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and other diseases.

The leading biomedical research agency in the world is slated to receive budget increases across the board. All NIH centers would see their budgets grow:

  • National Cancer Institute: +3 percent
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: +5 percent
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: +11 percent
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: +3 percent
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences: +3.5 percent
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: +14 percent
  • National Institute of Mental Health: +5 percent
  • National Human Genome Research Institute: +3 percent
  • National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering: +3 percent
  • National Library of Medicine: +3 percent

The proposal would also increase the Office of the Director’s budget by 5 percent. The buildings and facilities account for NIH would see a boost of 25 percent to $250 million, with the increased targeted to addressing the backlog of maintenance and repair at the agency. An additional $30 million would be set aside for renovations at the National Cancer Institute’s Frederick, Maryland, facility. In addition to efforts to improve physical infrastructure, NIH would receive a $100 million increase to enhance agency-wide cybersecurity efforts.

The request proposes a $100 million increase for research on the human health impacts of climate change. This funding would support extramural research to understand health-related climate vulnerability and building health resilience, with particular emphasis on “populations of concern,” including children, the elderly, outdoor workers, and those living in disadvantaged communities.

Another priority for NIH in FY 2022 would be tackling structural racism and racial inequities in the biomedical research enterprise. NIH proposes to increase funding for its Office of Scientific Workforce Diversity by $16 million to $22 million. The office leads the agency’s UNITE initiative, which aims to identify and address structural racism within the NIH and biomedical research communities and conduct new research into health disparities, minority health, and health inequities. The NIH-wide UNITE initiative will work to attract and retain scientists from underrepresented groups, address racial disparities in grant success rates, and improve the transparency of workforce demographic data.

The budget for NIH also includes $496 million (+23 percent) in funding made available through the 21st Century Cures Act. NIH will continue to support research to improve influenza vaccines. The plan would also provide $3.1 billion, a small increase of $10 million from FY 2021, for the NIH-sponsored Centers for AIDS Research.

The request includes $2.2 billion to address the opioid crisis, an increase of $627 million over the FY 2021 enacted level. $405 million (+$135 million) would go towards the Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative, which was launched in April 2018 to combat opioid addiction and perform research on pain and addiction.

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