National Institutes of Health Research Budget Faces Threatened Cuts for Fiscal Year 2013

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and its grassroots arm, the Digestive Health Alliance, have recently renewed their call to advocacy regarding the upcoming U.S. National Institutes of Health fiscal year 2013 budget, that this blog originally discussed on April 18, 2012. In IFFGD’s words, “The NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world. NIH support goes to scientists in universities and research institutions in every state and around the globe.”

In order to meet the requirements of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was enacted to reduce the federal deficit, NIH faces an automatic 7.8% or $2.5 billion decrease in its budget unless an alternative plan is soon enacted into law.

According to IFFGD’s alert, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, has stated that such a cut would translate to 2300 fewer grants awarded for the coming fiscal year. For the past several years, because of inflation and zero growth or low growth in NIH budgets, even currently, only 1 out of 7 grant applications to the NIH is successfully funded. IFFGD reports, “This is the lowest ratio in NIH history.”

The current 2012 NIH budget is $30.7 billion.  Many health-related entities,  including IFFGD/DHA, support an increase to at least $32 billion for NIH in fiscal year 2013, rather than the planned decrease.

IFFGD/DHA reports recently that over 150 federal legislators have joined in a request  that NIH be appropriated at least $32 billion for fiscal 2013. As quoted by IFFGD, these Members of Congress “feel this level is absolutely vital in order for NIH to continue improving health through medical science breakthroughs and to maintain international leadership in science and biomedical research.” But more support is needed. IFFGD is asking U.S. citizens to contact their federal Representatives and Senators on this issue and has posted an NIH fiscal 2013 Capwiz alert on its website in the Legislative Action Center section. IBS Impact encourages its members and readers to participate in this advocacy effort

Capwiz is a software program in which you may type your zipcode to look up and easily contact your federal legislators. If you live in a zipcode that falls in more than one district, you will be prompted for the exact street address. Part of the text of an email is automatically provided by IFFGD. All you need to do is add a brief paragraph or two with your personal comments.  Please use your real name and contact information. As many legislators only accept communications from their own constituents, it is important for Congressional staff members receiving your message to know that you are a resident and potential voter in that district and a real person with real needs. They also may wish to reply to you, although it is unpredictable when or if you will receive a response. The Capwiz program is reputable software used for legislative advocacy by numerous organizations and groups. It and IFFGD will protect your privacy and you do not need to be an IFFGD member to use the site. However, if, for any reason, you do not wish to use Capwiz itself, you can contact your legislators directly by email through their official websites, phone, postal mail or fax by using the contact information provided by Capwiz.

IBS Impact members and readers who are not U.S. citizens, although you cannot participate directly in advocating for this issue, increases in the NIH budget will also affect you indirectly. As IFFGD notes in the quoted portion of the first paragraph of this post,  National Institutes of Health grants fund researchers all over the world. Also, in the research community, there is often multinational collaboration, and scientists from outside the U.S. often train or work in the U.S. for a period of time and bring new insights back to their own countries. Different entities within NIH also support and host multinational resources such as the clinical trial database ClinicalTrials.gov and medical journal databases Medline Plus and PubMed that make a wealth of medical research information available to professionals and the public worldwide. Support for progress in U.S. legislation, funding and research will have ripple effects abroad, just as U.S. citizens with IBS benefit from the work of scientists in many other countries. If you have U.S. citizen friends or relatives who have been supportive about your IBS  and/or who may have another personal interest in functional GI disorders, please consider asking them to support this advocacy effort as well. IBS Impact encourages people with IBS in many countries to alert us to concerns, resources and possible advocacy opportunities in those nations so that we can support and encourage advocacy and awareness efforts worldwide

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