On May 17, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing on the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In her opening remarks, subcommittee chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) praised the administration’s recognition of the importance of biomedical research through proposed funding increases for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) and research on Alzheimer’s, the opioid crisis, and mental health.
“Every day, across Washington state, researchers at the Fred Hutch Center, the University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and so many other world-class institutions are working around the clock and making groundbreaking discoveries. Discoveries that don’t just drive innovation and economic growth, but also bring families cures, treatments, and hope for the future – discoveries that save lives,” she said.
Ranking member Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) voiced support for ARPA-H but expressed concerns about the proposal’s lack of funding increases for the NIH’s base budget priorities. “If there is one lesson to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's that our nation's success depends on medical research infrastructure across the country, supported by NIH,” he said. “Now's not the time to abandon that goal. Now's the time, in fact, to make it even stronger.”
In his testimony, NIH Acting Director Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD, emphasized how the president’s proposal will support the science that helps tackle many health challenges, while investing in transformational innovations in health. He explained that the budget will build upon Congress’s initial investment for ARPA-H and support the Cancer Moonshot initiative. Tabak also reiterated the agency’s commitment to funding projects that reduce health disparities, the agency’s increased attention on mental health, and NIH’s establishment of a Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Task Force.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R- Kan.) raised concerns about whether ARPA-H’s placement inside the NIH would result in duplicative research. Dr. Tabak explained that communication between the two agencies would help to avoid overlap.