Winners and losers for science funding in the president’s FY13 budget request

On Monday Feb. 13, President Obama released his fiscal 2013 budget request. Since the president’s budget serves as the starting point for funding discussions on the Hill, we at the ASBMB Office of Public Affairs were very interested to hear what the president proposed.

The results for science funding agencies: a bit of a mixed bag. The president proposed a flat budget for the National Institutes of Health, holding funding at $30.7 billion for FY13. During these times of budget cuts, flat funding for NIH could be viewed as a victory for biomedical research. In fact, the president’s budget request does highlight the importance of biomedical research stating:

“Tomorrow’s advances in health care depend on today’s investments in basic research on the fundamental causes and mechanisms of disease, new technologies to accelerate discoveries, advancing translational sciences, and encouraging new investigators and new ideas.”

Despite these encouraging words, flat funding for NIH actually equates to a cut of approximately 3.4 percent after inflation.

The details of the NIH budget proposal (found here) give greater insight into what flat funding really means for NIH-supported investigators. The budget for the National Center for Advancing Translational Science will see an 11 percent increase, bringing its budget to $64 million. The increase would include $40 million more for the Cures Acceleration Network (now funded at $10 million). While most if the individual institutes will receive flat funding in FY13, the National Institute of General Medical Studies and the Office of the Director will both receive a 2 percent cut.

The budget also outlines several new grant management policies aimed at increasing the number of new research grants awarded and provide funding resources for new investigators. The changes include:

  • Discontinuing outyear inflationary allowances for competing and continuation grants
  • Reducing non competing continuation grants by 1 percent
  • Equalizing success rates of new investigators to those of established investigators
  • Additional scrutiny and review of awards to any investigator with existing $1.5 million or more in existing total costs

The budget proposal for the National Science Foundation, however, fared better. The president proposed a 4.8 percent increase in the NSF budget for FY13, bringing it to $7.3 billion. The six research directorates received a $294 million increase and the education directorate received a $47 million increase.

The areas that will see the greatest funding increases are the multi disciplinary programs that are part of the new OneNSF initiative. OneNSF focuses on programs that strive to connect multiple science and engineering fields to address complex challenges of national and global significance. Some of the OneNSF programs are:

  • INSPIRE – Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education
  • SEES – Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability
  • CEMMSS – Cyber-enabled Materials, Manufacturing, and Smart Systems
  • E2 – Expeditions in Education

Read more details about the NSF FY13 budget here.

In March members of the ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Committee will be joined by several student and postdoc members to meet with congressional offices to discuss research funding. Interested in being a voice for basic research? Learn more about the March Hill Day and apply here.

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