Stalled NIH Funding Levels Could Slow Progress of Life-saving Medical Research

AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement about the continuing resolution (CR) approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives that would maintain current funding levels for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies until April 28, 2017:

“The AAMC is disappointed that Congress has opted to defer completion of the annual spending bills yet again, leaving final funding for medical research in limbo. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved significant increases in the base NIH budget with strong bipartisan margins under the leadership of Subcommittee Chairs Roy Blunt and Tom Cole. Yet researchers and the patients who rely on this important work will have to wait at least seven months into the fiscal year before they know whether this critical increased investment will materialize. When the budget process stalls, it creates avoidable uncertainty that can delay scientific progress.   

While we are very pleased that both the House and Senate approved the 21st Century Cures Act—and we are grateful that the CR includes provisions allowing NIH to access FY 2017 Cures funding for specific initiatives—this is not a substitute for timely enactment of the base budget. The success of Cures ultimately will depend on sustainable, predictable growth in the base NIH budget to support research across the full spectrum of scientific opportunity.

We look forward to working with lawmakers to finalize an FY 2017 appropriation with $34.1 billion for NIH as soon as possible to avoid the consequences associated with continued budget ambiguity.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members are all 154 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their more than 173,000 full-time faculty members, 89,000 medical students, 129,000 resident physicians, and more than 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.