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  • Washington Highlights

    President’s Budget Support Precision Medicine, NIH Research Initiatives

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget, released Feb. 2, proposes a new initiative on precision medicine and includes additional funding for several ongoing research priorities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    The budget materials note, “Our Nation thrives when we are leading the world with cutting-edge technology in manufacturing, infrastructure, clean energy, and other growing fields. That is why the Budget includes investments in…biomedical research—like our BRAIN initiative, which studies the brain to offer new insight into diseases like Alzheimer’s, and Precision Medicine, which can improve health outcomes and better treat diseases…. These investments have the potential to create high-wage jobs, improve lives, and open the door to new industries, resulting in sustainable economic growth.”

    As part of the president’s multi-agency Precision Medicine Initiative announced Jan. 30, the FY 2016 request proposes $200 million for NIH. This includes $70 million to expand current cancer genomics research and $130 million to launch a national research cohort of a million or more individuals, primarily those who have already participated in clinical research studies, who volunteer to share their genetic information in the context of other health data over time.

    The budget proposes $461 million, a $100 million increase, to support NIH’s role in the administration's National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. To spur the development of new, rapid diagnostics, NIH, in collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is designing a competition for the development of a rapid diagnostic test that will be of great clinical and public health utility in combating anti-microbial resistance. A prize or prizes totaling at least $20 million will be announced by the end of FY 2016.

    With the additional funding proposed, NIH will:

    • develop a national database of genomic sequence data on all reported human infections with antibiotic-resistant microorganisms;
    • launch a large-scale effort to characterize and understand drug resistance, focusing on the changes in host/pathogen molecular interactions that occur as bacteria develop resistance in response to antibiotic treatment; and
    • expand its Antibiotic Resistance Leadership Group to create a rapid response clinical trial network that is ready to test new antibiotics on individuals infected with highly resistant strains.

    The budget proposes $135 million, a $70 million increase, for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, launched in April 2013. In September 2014, NIH awarded the initial round of grants for the BRAIN Initiative, totaling $46 million. These grants included six funding initiatives covering a wide array of topics from better understanding the cells and circuits of the brain to developing better tools to measure and manipulate their activity to the next generation of non-invasive human functional imaging. 

    For Alzheimer’s disease research, the budget proposes $638 million, an increase of $51 million. NIH and many other federal agencies have been active participants in Global Action Against Dementia (GAAD), a G7 effort launched in December 2013. In February 2015, NIH will host a research summit on Alzheimer’s disease that will include international participation and presentations, followed by a half-day meeting focused on G7 research tracking and collaborations. NIH’s ability to identify new research opportunities and track research progress will be aided by these international collaborative efforts.

    In addition to the initiatives listed above, NIH has identified the following research priorities for FY 2016:

    • Unraveling life's mysteries through basic research;

    • Translating discovery into health;

    • Harnessing data and technology to improve health; and

    • Preparing a diverse and talented biomedical research workforce.