House and Senate appropriators have completed initial work on the FY 2004 Labor-Health and Human Services - Education appropriations bill. Under each version of this legislation the appropriation for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Institute (NIBIB) would increase, with the Senate bill providing greater funding. Both bills will now go to the full House and Senate, after which a conference will be held to set the final funding level.
It is unusual that this mammoth funding bill moved so early in the appropriations cycle. This is usually one of the last bills to be considered, as it is a lightning rod for some of the most contentious issues that Congress considers. Last year House appropriators never got their bill out of the committee.
The NIBIB is a relatively new institute at the NIH. NIBIB Director Roderic Pettigrew announced last month the intramural research program will begin in FY 2004. The current budget for the NIBIB is $278.3 million. Last week, House appropriators granted the Administration's requested budget increase of 1.4%, or $3.8 million, to $282.1 million. Senate appropriators recommended an increase of 4.0%, or $11.0 million, to $289.3 million for FY 2004.
The House committee has not released its accompanying report. Selections from the Senate Report 108-081 language follow:
"Mission- The NIBIB improves 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. The Institute plans, conducts, fosters, and supports an integrated and coordinated program of research and research training that can be applied to a broad spectrum of biological processes, disorders and diseases and across organ systems. The Institute coordinates with the biomedical imaging and bioengineering programs of other agencies and NIH Institutes to support imaging and engineering research with potential medical applications and facilitates the transfer of such technologies to medical applications.
"Positron Emission Tomography [PET].--The Committee continues to encourage the Institute to devote significant resources to molecular imaging technologies such as positron emission tomography [PET] and microPET to take advantage of the capacities of molecular imaging to detect disease process at the molecular level and to monitor the effectiveness of targeted gene therapies now under development. The Committee also encourages the Institute to develop its research agenda in close collaboration with other, disease-specific Institutes at NIH, so that new imaging technologies are closely tied to the research projects being undertaken by the various other Institutes of NIH."