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Federal Budget Pending

Behavioral Science at NIH: FY 2004 Appropriations Report Language

The following report language appeared in Senate Report 108-81, which accompanied the Senate’s funding for the National Institute of Health in FY 04.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Behavioral Research - The Committee believes NIGMS has a scientific mandate to support this research because of the clear relevance of fundamental behavioral factors to a variety of diseases and health conditions. The Committee encourages the NIGMS to incorporate basic behavioral research as part of its portfolio, especially in the areas of cognition, behavioral neuroscience, behavioral genetics, psychophysiology, methodology and evaluation, and experimental psychology.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Clinical and Translational Science - The Committee is pleased that NIMH is working to expand the number of clinical scientists conducting research in mental disorders. The Committee understands that NIMH is currently working with the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science to explore new training models for clinical researchers. The Committee commends this groundbreaking effort.

Adherence and Behavior Change - NIMH supports studies of factors that influence decisions about adopting and adhering to treatment and prevention interventions, including individual personality or disease-related factors and type of treatment, as well as factors that may enhance or interfere with adherence to prevention, treatment, or rehabilitative regimens.

Social Neuroscience - The Committee is interested to learn that NIMH is supporting research in the emerging area of social neuroscience, focusing on the neurobiology of complex behaviors. This trandisciplinary research holds much promise for increasing understanding of the connections between the brain and behavior.

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Behavioral Research - The Committee recognizes the enormous progress NCI has made in the quality and breadth of cancer related behavioral science ranging from basic biobehavioral research to health communication research and tobacco control research. Closing the gap between research and program delivery is both a challenge and a necessity if we are to ensure that all populations benefit from new scientific discoveries. Behavioral science can contribute to survival, reduced morbidity and increased quality of life, and the behavioral and cognitive sciences can be highly applicable in answering critical questions regarding patient care.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Cognition and Learning - The Committee applauds NICHD’s new program in Mathematics and Science Cognition and Learning, aimed at supporting scientifically based approaches to improving our understanding of normal development and obstacles to learning in these domains. Discovering the causes of difficulties and disorders of learning in these areas will be of considerable importance for developing strategies to improve diagnosis and treatment of specific learning disabilities and for designing more effective instructional interventions in mathematics and science.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Relapse - The Committee encourages NIDA to continue its support of behavioral research that can further our understanding about the underlying cognitive, emotional, and behavioral factors that lead to drug abuse relapses.

Adolescent Decision Making and Drug Abuse - The Committee recognizes that the scientific understanding gained by the support of behavioral and cognitive research will lead to improved treatment and prevention of drug abuse and addiction. The Committee encourages NIDA to support more research on adolescent decision making, including the cognitive, behavioral and social processes involved in initiating and continuing drug use.

Translational Research - The Committee applauds NIDA’s efforts to support behavioral science research that provides insight into drug abuse and addiction, especially in the field of tobacco and nicotine addiction. Behavioral and cognitive studies are needed to examine the forerunners and consequences of nicotine use and the nature of the nicotine addiction process, including both genetic and environmental risk factors for nicotine abuse. The Committee encourages NIDA to continue its innovative approaches to rapidly move basic behavioral science into clinical application.

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Adolescent Risk Behavior - The Committee commends NINR’s research in risk behavior. Recognizing that many adolescent risk behaviors are intertwined, the focus of NINR’s initiative is on developing interventions that target several risk behaviors simultaneously. Increased understanding of factors that facilitate healthy lifestyle behaviors as well as the modification of risky behaviors will reduce the consequences associated with these risks.

National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS)
Cognitive Neuroscience - By encouraging research on higher brain functions that underlie complex behaviors such as learning, memory, attention, and cognition, NINDS will continue to unlock secrets not only on basic brain structure and function, but also on neural activity associated with specific cognitive processes. The Committee is interested in seeing progress in this research.

In a year dominated by war and a roller coaster economy, as well as a looming presidential election, Congress has had difficulty finding time to tend to some of its bread-and-butter business, such as passing a budget for the US government.

Nevertheless, it appears that a budget is forthcoming, and that funding for behavioral science will see modest increases in keeping with the outlook for science in general. The government’s largest funders of psychological research, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, both received increases in their respective budgets for the fiscal year 2004, or FY 04. Increases for the agencies have slowed after the boom of the late 1990s and the early part of this decade (particularly at NIH, which saw a doubling of its budget over 5 years), but the research agencies that fund behavioral research are poised to gain in a year when many domestic programs did not fare so well.

Six of the 13 FY 04 appropriations bills that make up the government’s annual budget were finalized before Congress recessed in December, but the appropriations bills that fund the NIH and the NSF were not among them. These two bills, along with five others, were rolled into one omnibus appropriations bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in November. This same bill awaits the Senate’s approval and will be taken up when Congress returns to Washington after the recess.

This omnibus bill, if passed unchanged from its current form, will provide the NIH with a budget of $27.982 billion, an increase of 3.1 percent. This is a slight improvement over the initial request of the White House, a proposed 2.3 percent increase. Individual institutes at the NIH that support behavioral research all fared similarly in the omnibus package. The National Institute of Mental Health, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development all received increases of between 3.1 and 3.2 percent.

Behavioral and psychological sciences also received a good amount of attention in the report that accompanied the Senate’s version of the NIH budget. Much of the report language reflected issues raised by APS.

Also under the omnibus bill, the NSF budget as a whole increased to $5.578 billion, and the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate would receive an increase of 5.5 percent, bringing it to $205 million. The SBE provides key funding for research in basic psychological and behavioral sciences, including the Children’s Research Initiative and the Science of Learning Centers.

Until the omnibus spending bill becomes law, those programs under its umbrella will continue to be funded at FY 03 levels. Looking ahead to FY 05, the president’s budget request is scheduled to be released the first Monday of February. Last year, the FY 04 budget was released before Congress finished work on the FY 03 budget, and a repeat of the same situation appears likely this year.

Please be sure to check the APS Web site for updates on the federal budget.

Observer Vol.17, No.2 February, 2004

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