Sure Sign of Spring: Budget Briefings

APA Government Relations staff participated in briefings this spring held by two active advocacy coalitions: Friends of NIA (National Institute on Aging) and Friends of NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development).

APA Government Relations staff participated in briefings this spring held by two active advocacy coalitions: Friends of NIA (National Institute on Aging) and Friends of NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development).

These coalitions are made up of scientific, medical and patient organizations that advocate for sufficient funding for the respective institutes.  As a member of both coalitions (plus others, e.g. Friends of NIDA), APA staff look forward to these spring briefings to ask questions of the institute directors and learn about new research initiatives.

Richard Hodes, MD, Director of the National Institute on Aging, shared information with the Friends of NIA on research funded by federal stimulus funds (ARRA) at the end of last month.  NIA like other NIH institutes is publishing more information than ever about the aims and available research results from ARRA-funded research to meet the Obama Administration’s standards for increased public information about results of the stimulus legislation.

In answer to a question about how ARRA had affected NIA’s grant management, Dr. Hodes explained that increases in numbers of grant applications left NIA with a 17.5 percent success rate in Fiscal Year 2009, the lowest NIA has experienced since its all-time low (17.3) in Fiscal Year 2006. Many NIH institutes have seen falling success rates for the past few years, the result not only of increased applications but also relatively flat funding in the base budgets (non-ARRA).

Alan Guttmacher, MD, Acting Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, briefed the Friends of NICHD about the National Children’s Study on March 18. The National Children’s Study (NCS) is the largest and most comprehensive study of children’s health and development ever planned in the U.S.  When fully implemented, the study will follow a representative sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21. The Administration has requested that Congress provide $194.4 million for the NCS. While the NCS is managed by NICHD, it is a trans-NIH project housed in the Office of the Director of NIH.

The NCS Vanguard Study began in January 2009 with two centers and expanded in April 2009 with five additional centers. NIH plans to run it in parallel to, and ahead of, the Main Study to allow the NCS to develop and refine operational approaches and assessments. The budget request would allow the NCS to continue data acquisition, evaluate the methods used in the Vanguard Study, and make data-driven recommendations for the methodology of the Main Study.