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AIDS Research Gets Huge Stimulus


Tucked away in the massive stimulus package signed by President Obama last week is the largest budget increase in the NIH's history. Thanks to Senator Arlen Specter, the budget of the National Institutes of Health will go from $29 billion to $39 billion -- a whopping 34 percent increase (see this NYT story for details).

I called Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the top federal official responsible for AIDS research, and asked him how much of this increase would go to AIDS. Short answer, we don't know the exact amount at this point, but it should get approximately the same boost as all the other research areas. The current AIDS research budget is $2.9 billion. That could go up by another $1 billion, give or take a couple hundred grand. That's some serious stimulus.

Here's how it will work. The NIH will get an additional $10 billion, which it has to spend within two years. About a quarter of this amount is to be spent on classic infrastructure projects, like new buildings and laboratories at the NIH and university campuses. $7.4 billion will go directly to research, paying for as many as 15,000 additional grants submitted by scientists at universities across the country.

Each NIH institute will get a share of this $7.4 billion equal to their current allocation of the NIH grants budget. Then it will be up to each institute how to allocate their share. Fauci and the other institute directors will need to scour their current grant programs to find projects that can be funded quickly (within the next two years). They'll do a combination of new grants and increasing the size of some current grants. For new grants, they'll first look at recently submitted grant requests that were scored as worthy of support, but fell just below the previous budget cut-off lines.

So as each institute director looks at their current and potential grants portfolio for AIDS (there is no AIDS institute, but NIAID does more AIDS research than all the others), they'll be looking for what they can fund quickly, or within two years. If their AIDS portfolios offer lots of quick funding options, we'll get our fair share of the new stimulus money.

Fauci was hopeful that AIDS research would get the approximately one-third increase that other disease groups are hoping for. That would mean about $1 billion more over the next two years. That's huge. Combine this with some new found energy among activists and researchers to actually figure out a "functional cure" for AIDS, and we could be entering a golden age of AIDS research.


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Comments on Peter Staley's blog entry "AIDS Research Gets Huge Stimulus"

Nice post, Peter. AIDS research activists will need to be vigilant about how NIAID and the other 26 NIH institutes and centers spend their unexpected windfall - the directors will have almost complete discretion (within the parameters you mentioned) to fund things they want to. The funds will not be able to be used for anything long-term (such as a clinical trial of a new drug in phase II/III) and the danger is that people will be so excited about the short-term stimulus that they will miss out on the persistent long-term dangers posed to the NIH AIDS research budget by the flatlining of regular research funding since 2004. Unless NIH receives steady annual increases of at least 10-15% per year for the next five to ten years, the current trend of young scientists leaving research is set to continue, with dire long-term consequences both for US science and for the health of people with and at risk for HIV and other deadly diseases.

Thanks for the information Peter. Having participated in the HIV clinical trials studies at NIH, I have always been not only impressed with the medical testing situations but also by the excellent treatment of the participants by the staff. From the time you enter the department and are greeted by Senora with her welcoming smile until the time you leave they are very considerate of your needs.
I encourage others to participate in clinical trials studies. Not only do you receive excellent care but hopefully will help one day find a cure.
You might even make a couple of new friends. I did.
Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Dab Garner

Hey Dab

I can't agree more about the terrific staff at NIH ! I too am in a study at the NIH, I'm an LTNP. I go back there in April for another study visit. It's my 5th year in the study.

Hopefully with the new, increased funding they'll be able to expand their research efforts.

Thanks Peter for letting us know about the great news !


aka OzPaul

Nice blog and post.
I'm glad to see more money going into research. Let's hope the well doesn't run dry!

Thanks for provides hope. Any scrap of hope is helpful. Yes, longterm, continual funding increases...hopefully this will continue...? My experiences with NIH were exceptional as well (Senora...bless her heart!). I gained much from my every 2-4 week adventures there from the Midwest.

I wouldn't get too hyped here. I would not believe anything till you have the money in hand from this gang.
As we take another giant step on the road to serfdom it should be obvious to any reasonable thinking person that the only way government run health can work is if certain patients are denied treatment. This will most likely effect older citizens over 70. I also expect new expensive treatments for HIV to be denied by FDA. The government must control every facet of the system for it to work. The same morons who did such a great job at the SEC and FEd the past twenty yeas.
This is also the only solution left to solve the coming SS catastrophe. People must die sooner to keep expenses in line. So as we all clamor for free health care and the government making health decisions we are in fact signing our early death warrants.
The fact that we have aborted millions of potential taxpayers is also pretty hilarious.
Its very scary thinking that the same crooks and incompetents like Barney and the Countrywide 6 who looted Fannie and Freddie for political and personal wealth and caused the present financial disaster are going to be in charge of my health care.

Great article! There is certainly a lot of hope around Obama's stimulus package and the opportunity to increase AIDS research funding is fantastic. Of course we won't know until we see the results but if anyone can do it, I suspect Obama is the man to make AIDS research a priority.

Great information for the money is available and now we need new leadership in NIH with Zeal for a cure and Hope and Passion for a Cure. I think it is time for Toney with NIH to stop giving us bologna pertaining to a Cure for AIDS and ask him to become a retiree from NIH. Yes, bring in a new progressive scientist with Zeal, Passion and HOPE for a cure for AIDS. Toney MOVE ON DUDE, let’s have a going away party and pat him on the back for all your good works of the past and bring in someone new into leadership within our NIH Research here in the USA, for a CURE for AIDS.
Peace and much love
Frederick Wright

Oh, sure, waste billions more on harmless viremia when the truth is AIDS is inarguably a disease of popper-snorting, disco dancing urban homosexuals ingesting toxic amounts of AZT, as shown conclusively in 1983 or 4. Ask Chrissie Maggiore if you don't believe me.

Hi Peter,
I'm trying to gather data on NIH AIDS research budget since the mid 80s which is precisely what you have in your graph. Would you mind telling me where you got those numbers from? And is it possible for you to you send me the table? Long story made short, data are to be used in a research project trying to explain participation in clinical trials.
Thanks a lot.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Staley published on February 25, 2009 2:46 PM.

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