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NIH Director Testifies Before House Panel

This week, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, testified about the NIH budget before the House Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittee. Dr. Collins was accompanied by the directors of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Cancer Institute and National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Collins and his panel thanked Congress for the $3 billion funding increase provided for NIH in the 2018 final appropriations package, which Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) noted was, “the second highest annual funding increase in NIH’s history.”

Dr. Collins and institute directors responded to questions from subcommittee members about issues including the state of biomedical research, NIH’s response to the opioid epidemic, health disparities and recent developments from the BRAIN initiative. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) urged NIH to increase efforts to lower the age of early-stage investigators. He noted that the average age of MD-level R01 grants has risen to 45. Dr. Collins maintained that the NIH remains committed to fostering the development of the next generation of investigators.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), noting that her late mother suffered from COPD, asked how NIH plans to implement the COPD National Action Plan. Dr. Collins alluded to the FY2018 funding increase and said that NHLBI is particularly interested in genetic factors related to the onset of COPD as well as the consequences of COPD in rural communities.

Last Reviewed: April 13, 2018