January 1, 1970 (Vol. , No. )

John Sterling Editor in Chief Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has an annual budget of over $28 billion. Only 10% of the NIH’s budget supports projects conducted by nearly 6,000 scientists in its own laboratories, most of which are on the NIH campus in Bethesda. In terms of extramural funding, in FY 2007, out of 47,455 grant requests, only 10,100 were funded, barely over 20%. That is less than $4 billion of its $28 billion budget.

According to prepared testimony given by Harvard ‘s president, Dr. Drew Faust, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions last month, “The responses to rejected grants are downsized labs, lay-offs of post docs, slipping morale, and more conservative science that shies away from the big research questions.

Dr. Faust also pointed out that “…. today, China, India, Singapore and others have adopted biomedical research and the building of biotechnology clusters as national goals. Suddenly, those who train in America have significant options elsewhere.”

NIH – funded research is urgently needed to ensure the pre-eminence of biotechnology in the United States. The reality is that not enough of the money NIH receives from Congress is going for research. To whom is NIH financially accountable? Where does all its money really go? Is NIH broken? And how should be it fixed?

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