National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., told a Senate panel that the agency is “developing an overarching NIH strategic plan, and will be linking this with individual Institute/Center (IC) strategic plans that reflect the rapid current progress in bioscience.” The plan will be completed by December 2015.
Dr. Collins made the comments at an April 30 Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the president’s FY 2016 budget.
Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) opened the hearing by saying, “I intend to prioritize funding for NIH as one of the things the committee does even in a year where our funding challenges are greater than they sometimes are…I am anticipating that this subcommittee will be as supportive as we possibly can …of the ongoing work of NIH and the promise it holds for the future.”
Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member on the subcommittee, said “Biomedical research is an important investment to ensure that our government works for all of our families.” She said she was proud of the bipartisan budget agreement in December 2013 that rolled back sequestration for two years and hoped to build upon that agreement “and replace those automatic spending cuts for 2016 and beyond.”
Dr. Collins told the subcommittee, “As a federal research agency, we are acutely aware that to achieve our mission we must serve as effective and efficient stewards of the resources provided by the American public. One way we are doing this is by focusing on prioritization of NIH resources. This involves developing advanced methods of portfolio analysis, identifying compelling scientific opportunities, fostering creative trans-NIH collaborations, and enhancing use of the Common Fund.”
He added, “We are also forging novel interagency partnerships like the NIH-DARPA-FDA project to build human biochips for testing drug toxicity, as well as innovative public-private partnerships and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership that is seeking to identify new drug targets for Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.”
He told the subcommittee, “We are also working to optimize the peer review process to enhance diversity, the fairness, the rigor, and the reproducibility of NIH-supported science. And finally, we remain firmly committed to strengthening and sustaining the biomedical research workforce by incentivizing early stage young investigators and revitalizing physician-scientist training.”
Committee member questions focused on personalized medicine and the National Research Cohort, Alzheimer’s disease, reducing administrative burden, coordinating federal research across agencies, reallocating NIH’s research portfolio, telemedicine and mobile health, and the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program.