NIH Announces First Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity

Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins announced the appointment of Hannah Valantine, M.D., to the permanent position of Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity. This appointment is the result recommendations by the Biomedical Research Workforce Diversity Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) which called for the creation of a new position dedicated to diversity. AADR applauds this announcement and looks forward to working with Dr. Valantine to enhance the diversity of the dental, oral and craniofacial research workforce.  Click here to read the NIH press release.

Analysis of Budget Cuts Impact to Biomedical Research

Last week, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
released an analysis of the impact sequestration had on biomedical research.  According to their analysis, in constant dollars the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget in fiscal year (FY) 2013 was $6 billion less than FY2003. Additionally, the number of competing research project grants awarded by NIH decreased by 20.3% from FY2003-FY2013. AADR will continue to partner with research community urging Congress to roll back all of the cuts administered by sequestration and increase funding for the National Institutes of Health.

US Senate Hearing on Federal Travel and Conferences

Today AADR submitted a statement for the record to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for the hearing entitled Examining Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government. This statement highlighted the importance of federal participation in annual conferences and urged the Committee to consider the ramifications of expanding restrictions on conference and travel expenditures beyond the actions already taken by the Office of Management and Budget.

Congress Approves Appropriations Bill!

This week Congress approved the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (H.R. 3547) by overwhelming margins.  The Senate approved the bill by a 72-26 vote and the House approved it by a 359-67 vote. President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 allocates funding for the federal government for the remainder of FY2014 and rolls back a portion of the harmful sequestration cuts administered last year.  Unfortunately, while a one billion increase was provided for the National Institutes and Health (NIH), funding for NIH and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) are still well below pre-sequestration levels. This means that the legislation falls short of providing the funding necessary to enhance promising research.

The FY2015 appropriations process will begin during the next month where members of Congress will begin to decide on their funding priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. AADR will continue to urge members of Congress to increase funding for NIH and NIDCR. It is imperative that members of Congress hear from the scientific community about the impact of austerity measures and the need for additional funding!

We will need your help! To become more involved with AADR advocacy please register for the April 8th AADR/ADEA Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill by emailing cmullen@aadronline.org.

For more information about the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 please review our recent blog post which provides additional details about the funding levels and report language included in the legislation.

FY14 Appropriations Bill Proposes Funding for NIH, NIDCR and other agencies

Late last night the House and Senate Appropriations Committee released the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2014,
which provides proposed funding levels and report language for the remainder of fiscal year 2014.  Congress still needs to approve and vote on this legislation in order for it to become law.

First of all, thank you to all our advocates who responded to the AADR Action Alerts, contacted your Members of Congress, invited them to your campuses, wrote editorials and other activities that heightened their awareness of the importance of a strong biomedical research enterprise for America.  Your efforts were noted and against all odds, the Consolidated Appropriations Act contains a Labor-Health and Human Services (L-HHS) appropriations section.

Specifically, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 proposes to fund the National Institutes of Health at $29.926 billion and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at $398.7 million, which is nearly a one billion dollar increase for NIH and an $11.7 million increase from the FY13 post-sequestration level for NIDCR. However, this is still $766 million below FY12 for NIH and $11.6 million below for NIDCR.  It is important to note that the approximate one billion increase provided to the NIH, “…(was) generally distributed proportionately among NIH Institutes and Centers.” The other additional amounts were added to the National Institute of Aging in recognition of Alzheimer’s research and also to other institutes in anticipation of research in connection to the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.

Additionally, the explanatory statement accompanying the bill includes report language
encouraging the director of the NIH to make the development of alternative dental restorative materials a high priority.

“Dental Materials Research-The United Nations (UN) Environmental Programme, International Negotiating Committee completed deliberations in January 2013 on a global legally binding treaty on mercury. The UN agreement contains provisions for the reduction in the use of dental amalgam, as a mercury- added product, and calls for increased dental research into alternative materials. Given the global commitment to reduce all uses of mercury, the NIH Director is expected to make the development of alternative dental restorative materials a high priority.” (Joint Explanatory Statement, Division H-Depts. Of Labor-HHS-Education pg. 38)

AADR also advocates and tracks funding for a number of institutions.  Click here to view a detailed funding chart.

Other Important Provisions

  • The agreement proposes $32 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) oral health training program. Within the $32 million no less than $8 million is dedicated for general dentistry programs and not less than $8 million for pediatric dentistry programs. This section also prohibits health workforce funds to be used for section 340G-1, the Alternative Dental Health Care Providers Demonstration
    Program.
  • The agreement includes funding for the early childhood caries initiative within the
    Indian Health Services.  According to the report language, “The Service is encouraged to work with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and to consult with Tribes about increasing preventive dental care for children by bringing dentists and hygienists into BIE schools. The Service should continue to make significant strides towards completion of
    electronic dental records. The Service is encouraged to explore establishing a centralized credentialing system to address workforce needs similar to those of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, to consider a pilot program for the credentialing of dentists, and to propose funding for fiscal year 2015.”
    The Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention (CDC) programs are directed to actively coordinate with the
    Institutes and Centers of the NIH to identify scientific gaps to accelerate
    understanding of diseases and their prevention knowledge across NIH and CDC
    research portfolios.
  • In accordance with a longstanding tradition funding is not directed to any specific disease research area. The NIH is expected to base its funding decisions only on scientific opportunities and the peer review process.
  • NIH is expected to maintain funding support for basic biomedical research.
  • The NIH Director shall provide a report on Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data within 180 days of enactment to the House and Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • The NIH Director and IC Directors are directed to work with the other HHS operating divisions to establish a more systematic means of disseminating research results.
  • The NIH is directed to examine and produce a report on how the post peer review priority setting process, resource allocation process and the portfolio evaluation data and information to ensure that the priority setting process provides decision makers with answers to key questions such as: How the proposed activity
    significantly advances the body of biomedical science; How the proposed activity could contribute to expanding knowledge to improve human health; The relationship and impact of the proposed
    activity to the program goals and objectives; and how the proposed activity could impact the overall research portfolio of the NIH and the national research institute or center involved.
  • The NIH Director shall produce a report regarding the implementation of strategic planning. This report will include information about the prioritization process between rare and neglected diseases while also maintaining a focus balance between translational and basic bio-medical science; and how the plan is harmonized across the NIH ICs to ensure a balanced portfolio that is free of unnecessary duplication and takes advantage of cross-cutting bio-medical research.

For more Information: Click here to read the omnibus appropriations bill and here to read the joint explanatory statement.

What is Next? Today the House will vote on a short term continuing resolution funding the federal government through Jan. 18 to give Congress more time to vote on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. AADR will keep you informed as this process moves forward.