1999 NIH Budget to Soar

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Biomedical researchers had to wait a long time to learn the new budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)--but nobody's complaining. Tomorrow Congress is expected to begin voting on the last package of spending bills for the fiscal year that began 3 weeks ago, and it contains a 15% increase--roughly $2 billion--for NIH.

"I've been on a high all day," said William Brinkley, president of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology, noting that the $15.6 billion budget for 1999 exceeds his fondest wishes. "We worked hard for this," he added. "I think we're seeing the fruition of a lot of active participation by individual scientists going to Washington."

The NIH funding is part of a massive, 4000-page omnibus appropriation bill that was still being finalized by harried congressional staffers. It tacks together eight of the 13 annual spending bills that had become mired in election-year politics. Legislators had already approved, and the president has signed, budgets for the rest of the government (Science, 9 October, p. 209).

All of the NIH institutes will receive hefty spending boosts, topped by 22% for the National Human Genome Research Institute. The bill also provides $50 million for a new Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, including "not less than $20 million for peer-reviewed complementary and alternative medicine research grants and contracts." Elsewhere in the bill is an unexpected $210 million boost in research spending for climate change and renewal energy, much of it at the Department of Energy, and $204 million for the Advanced Technology Program run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.