Although 2013 was a terrible year for research funding, there is some indication that American scientists might see in increase in their spending budget this coming year. According to an Associated Press article posted in OA online 6 days ago, the government has earmarked $29.9 billion out of its $1.1 trillion 2014 spending budget for the National Institute of Health (NIH). This represents a $1 billion dollar increase above 2013 funding levels and will provide a much needed boost to the drastic drop in research funding caused by the sequester.
Yet despite its positive tone, others are cautioning that the $1 billion increase may not be enough. According to Sen. Bod Casey of Pennsylvania, the proposes 2014 budget, increase and all, still falls way short of the NIH’s 2009 funding levels. Furthermore, according to the Huffington Post, the 2014 budget is $714 million less than pre-sequestration NIH funding and smaller than all of President George W. Bush’s NIH budgets with the exception of his first year in office.
The publication Nature offered a further glimpse into how the so-called funding-boost may really be less rosy than it appears for biomedical research. According to Nature, the funding increase will provide physical science research with small increases over 2012 levels. On the other hand, biomedical research will actually experience a budget decline of approximately $800 million below 2012 funding levels. According to the Whit House Office of Management and Budget, the NIH will receive $29,926 million in 2014 compared to $30,702 in 2012 and the CDC will receive $5,807 million in 2014 compared to $5,656 in 2012. Taking into account the impact of inflation, these numbers seem particularly dismal.
What lesson needs to be learned from this story? The next time you hear that the US is on the road to recovery, be sure to check your blind spots before changing lanes. You may be surprised at the dangers that are lurking behind you.