By a vote of 388 yes to 13 no votes, the House of Representatives yesterday passed H.R. 5006, the FY 2005 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill. This bill provides funding for the National Institutes of Health, within which is the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).
Under this bill, which has not yet been acted upon by the Senate, NIBIB funding would increase by 3.7%, or $10,518,000, from $287.1 million to $297.7 million. This figure is the same as that requested by the Bush Administration (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/018.html.) Total NIH funding in the bill is the same as what the administration requested. (Note that the projected NIBIB increase calculated by the committee and the administration somewhat differ.)
Accompanying this bill is House Report 108-636 which contains the committee's non-binding language regarding NIBIB. The full text of this language follows; note that the committee states, "The important innovations envisioned in the imaging and biomedical engineering agenda are unlikely to be achieved in the foreseeable future, however, unless additional resources are available to NIBIB. . . . The Committee urges the Director of NIH to give NIBIB special attention so that it can achieve its potential."
"The Committee provides $297,647,000 for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which is $10,518,000 above the fiscal year 2004 comparable level and the same as the budget request.
"Mission.--The mission of the Institute is to improve health by promoting fundamental discoveries, design and development, and translation and assessment of technological capabilities in biomedical imaging and bioengineering, enabled by relevant areas of information science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, materials science, and computer sciences.
"NIBIB growth.--The Committee recognizes the important role of new imaging and engineering techniques and technologies both in improving health care delivery and enabling progress in biomedical research. The Committee believes that NIBIB has worked effectively with the extramural community to identify important research opportunities and challenges. Through workshops and conferences NIBIB has produced an ambitious research agenda that will produce new technologies with clinical applications to a broad spectrum of biological processes, disorders, and diseases and across organ systems as well as facilitate advanced research in virtually all other NIH institutes. The NIH leadership has recognized the central role of imaging by including the development of molecular imaging and molecular libraries as an initiative in the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The important innovations envisioned in the imaging and biomedical engineering agenda are unlikely to be achieved in the foreseeable future, however, unless additional resources are available to NIBIB. Because NIBIB was created at the end of the congressional effort to double the NIH budget over five years, it faces special challenges as funding growth slows. The Committee urges the Director of NIH to give NIBIB special attention so that it can achieve its potential. For that reason, the Committee requests NIH to develop a five-year professional judgment budget that would enable NIBIB to grow at an appropriate rate. The Committee expects to receive the report by May 1, 2005.
"Bone imaging.--The Committee encourages NIBIB to make new bone imaging techniques a primary focus, speeding the development of new imaging modalities that better capture bone quality, including bone micro- and macro-architecture, quantification of bone mass and crystalline composition, which are necessary to develop diagnostic and treatment therapies for patients with metabolic bone diseases. The Committee encourages NIBIB to participate actively in trans-NIH initiatives that address these priorities.
"Organ imaging.--The Committee encourages the Institute to focus on improved tissue and organ imaging technologies and on the growth of artificial tissues. Progress in these fields will have multiple benefits, including addressing issues such as invasive diagnostic tests now required for liver diseases and the need to address the shortage of livers and other organs available for transplantation.
"Diabetic retinopathy.--The Committee encourages NIBIB to collaborate with NEI on the development and application of scanning technologies that will be affordable and accessible to allow for early detection of diabetic retinopathy."
Also of note in the appropriations committee report is language on the NIH "Roadmap for Biomedical Research" that was released approximately one year ago. This NIH document notes the importance of interdisciplinary research, including that in the physical sciences, to biomedical advances (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2003/129.html and http://www.aip.org/fyi/2003/130.html.) The report calls this roadmap an "important step to moving biomedical research forward." The complete language follows:
"Roadmap.--The Committee endorses the Administration's proposal of supporting the NIH Roadmap for Biomedical Research at a funding level of $236,800,000, from funding contributed by the Institutes and Centers based on less than one percent of their budgets and out of the Director's Discretionary Fund. The Committee believes the Roadmap is an important step to moving biomedical research forward to the next level of discovery at a pace that hastens its delivery to patients. The Roadmap addresses common needs across all disease areas and should produce research advances that will benefit many diseases and conditions. The Committee expects to be to notified on a quarterly basis if the contribution from the Institutes and Centers or the allocation of funding by initiative changes from what is presented in the congressional justification."
The entire committee report is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app05.html