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Together we make the difference in Alzheimer's and related dementias research: NIH's FY 2020 bypass budget and progress report

Richard HODES, Director, Office of the Director (OD)
On Monday, July 30, I presented, on behalf of NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, the Fiscal Year 2020 NIH Professional Judgment Budget for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias at the meeting of the HHS Secretary’s Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services. The estimate—commonly referred to as a Bypass Budget—is based on scientific opportunities that NIH could pursue to achieve the research goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease—to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. 

The art of reading tea leaves

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)
As mentioned in last week’s blog, our current appropriations situation presents us with a conundrum. It is possible that we will see an increase in support for Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias research and perhaps some additional funds for our general allocation. Yet, for now, we are working with a continuing resolution that—if projected over the full year—reduces our budget by a small amount relative to last year.

Beginnings: Our first steps in making awards in FY 2018

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)
The new fiscal year started on October 1, and we began it with hope in our hearts for continued good news on our budget. Our increased appropriations in FY 2017 allowed us our most generous funding lines in our general allocation in many years, along with a positive windfall for research in Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Still, we started the year again on a now-familiar continuing resolution, which holds our current funding to the FY 2017 level—at least until December 22.

Every year at NIA brings its own challenges. This one was special -- and how!

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)
In recent years, we have scrambled to try to maintain a funding line by finding ways to stretch what seemed to be ever-shrinking resources. Then a trickle of new money arrived—beginning in FY 2014—targeted towards Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). In the following years, that trickle became a stream, and then a river. In FY 2017, it was a $400 million river.

At long last—a budget!

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

The wait was long—but the news is good! If you’ve been following events on Capitol Hill, you already know this. NIH has received a $2 billion increase in budget for this fiscal year, reflecting much-appreciated bipartisan support for biomedical research. NIA’s own budget received a monster $400 million boost for Alzheimer’s-related research, and our budget for other research areas increased at the same percentage rate as the NIH budget.

NIA funding line policy for 2017: First draft

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

The entire U.S. government, including NIA, is currently operating under an extension of a continuing resolution (CR) that will end on April 28…unless it is extended again, that is. A continuing resolution extends the previous year’s appropriations act, and the appropriations language within it, into the next fiscal year. It is usually minimally altered from the terms in the prior year. In other words, at this point in FY 2017, we’re operating with virtually the same budget we had in FY 2016.

Certainties and uncertainties about Alzheimer's funding

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

I visited Cleveland over Thanksgiving. In a moment of peace from family conversations, I picked up the local paper. The first story I encountered was a long report on the Health and Retirement Study findings, funded by NIA, showing a substantial decline in U.S. dementia rates in the last 20 years. Then, I encountered a story reporting Eli Lilly’s negative clinical trial results on solanezumab. My immediate conclusion was that, no matter where I go, my job follows me!

April pay line update

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

It is April. Spring flowers, trees in bud, warming temperatures, and a funding update from NIA that is as natural as the Spring, and as welcome as the flowers? (OK. Not so much!) Still, it is good news for some.

NIA funding policy and pay line update

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

As the funding policy statement makes clear, the fiscal year 2016 budget is a historic first for NIA. Yes, we received a very substantial increase for research related to Alzheimer’s disease—$350 million. But, in addition to that, we received a 4.2-percent increase in our general budget. That amount is above the rate of inflation for the first time since 2003, at the end of the era of doubling the budget. But, the competition for new and renewing awards remains fierce.

NIA budget, featured research highlights January NACA meeting

Robin BARR, Director, DEA, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

Next week, NIA’s National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) will hold its first meeting of 2016. The January 20 public session promises to be particularly interesting. NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes will provide some general background information on the FY 2016 budget for NIH and NIA. The session will also include NIH updates on research policy, as well as new scientific findings.