Created by on 3/5/2012 12:00:00 AM

Research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is essential for improving health, reducing human suffering, and protecting the nation against new and emerging health threats. Unfortunately, due to several years of flat funding and spending cuts enacted in 2011, the NIH budget is insufficient to fund all of the critical research that needs to be done.
Newly updated analyses of data from the NIH web site conducted by FASEB demonstrate how difficult times have become:
  • In constant dollars (adjusted for inflation), the FY 2012 budget and the President’s proposal for FY 2013 are $4 billion lower than the peak year (FY 2003) and at the lowest level since FY 2001 (Figure 1)
  • The number of research project grants funded by NIH has declined every year since 2004 (Figure 2)
  • This trend is projected to continue in FY 2012 and FY 2013, when NIH will fund 3,100 fewer grants than in FY 2004 (Figure 2)
  • NIH made 8,765 competing (new and renewed) awards in FY 2011, more than 1,600 fewer than in FY 2003 (Figure 3)
  • Success rates have fallen more than 14 percentage points in the past decade and are projected to decline even further in FY 2012 and 2013 (Figure 4)
The analyses demonstrate that we have lost ground. If the supplemental appropriations are considered, the decline is much greater. NIH reached a capacity of more than $35 billion in FY 2010-11. A high demand for stimulus funding, and the exceptional research that it yielded, illustrate that the capacity of the research system is at least $35 billion.
Without an increase in funding NIH will have to sacrifice valuable lines of research in order to keep up with rising costs and new mandates. To prevent further erosion of the nation’s capacity for biomedical research, FASEB recommends an appropriation of at least $32 billion for NIH in FY 2013 as the first step of a program of sustained growth that will keep pace with the increasing scientific opportunities and return to the demonstrated capacity of the research enterprise. The full analysis, consisting of 11 graphs and tables showing NIH research funding trends, may be found on the FASEB website.