This week’s Congressional budget package includes the largest increase in NIH funding in 15 years, a near 9% bump in funding, taking the total investment in NIH to 39 billion dollars. The increase in the NIH budget was far greater than scientists were expecting and comes as pressures have mounted over the last decade, with funding flatlined while the number of predoctoral trainees continued to rise.

Most scientists were taken aback by the renewed investment in research and were bracing for big cuts as the budget put forth in 2017 by Donald Trump included a near 30%  cut to NIH and a suggested overhaul of how indirect rates were negotiated that would have effectively ended research at some institutions.

Big NIH winners include earmarks for programmatic initiatives in Alzheimer’s Disease, brain research through the Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative, flu research and personalized medicine programs. Other funding streams for STEM research enjoyed a boost, with the National Science Foundation getting a 3.9% increase in total funding, and NASA, CDC and USDA also seeing budget increases.

The budget was notably not only increasing science funding, but also for including shockingly progressive language allowing limited research on fetal stem cells and opening the door on funding studies of gun violence.

The big heroes in this endeavor are Tom Coles and Roy Blunt, Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs. Both men have been working overtime with pro-STEM lobbying groups such as AAAS, AAMC and professional societies to drive investment in science.  Now would certainly be a fantastic time for those who are both in Coles’ and Blunt’s districts and scientists in general to thank them with a social media shoutout, card or phone call. Well done, Sirs.

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