Obama proposes $31B for medical research

April 10, 2013 at 6:28 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama proposed Wednesday spending $31 billion for medical research in his 2014 National Institutes of Health budget.

Obama's budget plan provides $80 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- an increase of $3.9 billion above the 2012 enacted level. No budget was approved for 2013, so 2012 levels were maintained.

The National Institutes of Health is the primary agency of the U.S. government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. It comprises 27 separate institutes, centers and offices.

"The significant new investments this budget contains for the NIH reflect our commitment to furthering the biomedical research that will help create good new jobs and advance the cause of medical science," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.

"The research includes projects like the human brain mapping initiative the president announced earlier this month -- as well as other programs that will spur job growth and drive us towards the medical breakthroughs of tomorrow."

The budget plan includes $100 million to address Alzheimer's disease.

An Alzheimer's Association report this year found the disease currently costs the nation $203 billion annually with projections to reach $1.2 trillion by 2050. The direct cost of Alzheimer's and related dementia is greater than any other condition in the United States, including heart disease and cancer.

However, Mary Woolley, president and chief executive officer of Research!America, said the president's budget proposal offered a lifeline for medical research to replace sequestration's damaging footprints.

"We're concerned budget proposals from Congress -- one from each of the House and Senate -- unlike the president, fail to reverse sequestration. Sequestration, 10 years of across-the-board spending cuts, will drag our nation down from its leadership position in research and development as other countries aggressively ramp up investments, attracting American businesses and young scientists concerned that federal funding is on the decline, that the U.S. no longer prioritizes research," Woolley said.

"Our nation has the most sophisticated medical research ecosystem in the world; yet our elected officials have ignored the short- and long-term consequences of dismantling it via sequestration."

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