Final FY17 Appropriations: National Institutes of Health

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Publication date: 
9 May 2017

The final appropriations law for fiscal year 2017 provides a 6.2 percent increase for the National Institutes of Health. The institutes most associated with the physical sciences all receive funding boosts.

On May 5, President Trump signed into law the final appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2017, which provides a $2 billion, 6.2 percent funding increase to the National Institutes of Health. The law is the product of over two years of work, and the mandated funding levels will last until at least the end of the fiscal year.

The Labor-Health and Human Services-Education section of the accompanying explanatory statement provides policy direction and spending levels for NIH institutes and programs. It also specifies that instructions in the corresponding House and Senate appropriations committee reports still stand unless superseded by new language in the explanatory statement. While the statement and reports do not carry the authority of law, agencies typically abide by their language. Congress also provided policy direction and additional funding for NIH through the 21st Century Cures Act enacted in January.

Congress rejected the Obama administration’s request for a $1.825 billion influx of new mandatory spending combined with a $1 billion discretionary funding decrease for NIH, instead opting to provide a record $34.084 billion top-line appropriation. The Senate report remarked that the administration’s request would have been a “step backwards” after NIH received a $2 billion increase in fiscal year 2016. Congress also ignored the Trump administration’s proposal for a 3.9 percent cut to NIH in fiscal year 2017.

The law also builds on the continuing resolution, which provided NIH with $352 million in funding in accordance with the 21st Century Cures Act. $300 million of these funds are for the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative, $40 million are for the Precision Medicine Initiative, and $10 million are for the BRAIN Initiative.

The law increases funding for all of NIH’s institutes and centers. The below chart displays the funding changes for five institutes that fund a significant amount of physical sciences research.

The National Cancer Institute is receiving the largest boost: a 9.1 percent increase over fiscal year 2016 that brings it to $5.69 billion. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences is receiving $2.65 billion, a 5.5 percent increase, which is higher than both House and Senate proposals. The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the National Institute on Deafness & Other Communication Disorders, and the National Eye Institute are receiving increases of between 2.3 and 3.3 percent.

FY17 NIH Appropriations

Funding Line FY16
House Senate Final Change
NIH2 32,084 31,084 33,334 34,084 34,084 6.2%
National Cancer Institute 5,215 5,097 5,338 5,430 5,689* 9.1%
National Institute of General Medical Sciences 2,512 2,434 2,584 2,634 2,651 5.5%
National Eye Institute 716 687 741 741 733 2.3%
National Institute on Deafness & Other Communications Disorders 423 416 434 442 437 3.3%
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging & Bioengineering 347 334 357 361 357 3.0%

All figures are in millions of nominal U.S. dollars and are rounded to the nearest million. The percentages are calculated based on the unrounded figures.

1. Excludes $1.825 billion in proposed mandatory spending.

2. Total budget authority as defined by the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations committee report.

* Includes $300 million provided by the continuing resolution (P.L. 114-254).

Additional budget information is available in the Federal Science Budget Tracker on FYI’s website. Below are selected highlights from the bill and its accompanying reports.

Other highlights

  • Extramural basic research: Requests that extramural funding of basic research not fall below 55 percent of total NIH resources.
  • Young investigators: Calls for NIH to continue focusing on actions that reduce the average age of new investigators.
  • Research Project Grants: Calls for an increase in the number of new and competing research project grants over fiscal year 2016.
  • BRAIN Initiative: Provides $260 million for the BRAIN Initiative, a 73 percent increase over last year’s level and significantly higher than the administration’s request of $195 million.
  • IDeA program: Specifies $333 million for the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, a 4 percent increase from last year, and directs the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to report on updated IDeA eligibility criteria that incorporates Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) states.
  • SEPA: Specifies no less than the fiscal year 2016 level of $18.5 million for the Science Education Partnership Awards, which cultivate relationships between biomedical research and K-12 educators and students. 

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