Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
I am pleased to present the President’s budget for the National Institute of General
Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The FY 2015
budget of $2,368,877,000 includes an increase of $6,983,000 above the comparable FY
2014 level of $2,361,894,000. NIGMS considers its public funds a precious resource and
focuses on efficiency and effectiveness in making investments in research and training.
The Institute spends 97 percent of its budget outside of the NIH, funding biomedical
research and training at universities and other institutions across the country—where
creative minds are at work every day producing new knowledge about health and disease.
Scientific discovery is the engine for advances in medicine, as research results
lead to new treatments and refine current standards of care. Biomedical research relies
on attracting and retaining a creative and well-trained workforce. NIGMS remains
committed to enabling researchers throughout the United States to answer important
scientific questions in fields such as cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental
biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, biomedical technology,
bioinformatics, computational biology, selected aspects of the behavioral sciences and
specific cross-cutting clinical areas that affect multiple organ systems. To assure the
vitality and continued productivity of the research enterprise, NIGMS also provides
leadership in training the next generation of scientists as well as in developing and
increasing the diversity of the scientific workforce.
The high value of investigator-initiated research has stood the test of time. This
approach, in which scientists decide what questions are important to study, ultimately
leads to major advances in medicine and technology. Examples include:
To ensure a continued pipeline of fundamental scientific advances that will lead to
future medical and technological breakthroughs, NIGMS is rebalancing its portfolio to
renew and reinvigorate its support for question-driven, investigator-initiated research.
This rebalancing has received strong support from stakeholder organizations, including
the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, an umbrella group
representing 26 scientific societies and over 115,000 researchers.
NIGMS has begun a new strategic planning process that is focusing on enhancing
the efficacy, efficiency and adaptability of the Institute’s internal processes and the
mechanisms through which we support biomedical research. In particular, we are
exploring the development of new grant mechanisms that would increase stability and
flexibility for researchers and maximize the scientific return on taxpayers’ investment.
These mechanisms will focus on the efficient use of funds, encouraging scientists to
undertake ambitious and creative projects that may be the breakthroughs of tomorrow.
NIGMS is also developing new strategies to strengthen and maintain the pipeline
of talented, creative, diverse and highly skilled young investigators. This segment of the
biomedical workforce is essential for the future of scientific research in the United States,
which is in turn essential for the future health and economic competitiveness of our
nation. Specific strategies we are considering to address the challenges facing young
investigators include outcomes-based enhancements of our training programs and efforts
to improve the competitiveness of young investigators in obtaining and keeping research
NIGMS is proud to be the home of the IDeA program, which ensures that cutting-edge
research is conducted in every region of the country. This strategy is critical to the
strength of our biomedical research enterprise, as it meets the need to involve the most
diverse set of minds, experiences and approaches for solving difficult health-related problems. Last year, NIGMS funded or co-funded 58 competing grants to IDeA
researchers, this included 25 competing Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence
awards. Particularly exciting research developments funded by the IDeA program
include the demonstration by Kentucky researchers that electrical stimulation of the
spinal cord can restore some motor function in individuals with paraplegia; a study by
scientists in South Carolina showing that nanoparticles coated with antioxidant proteins
can protect against stroke-related damage; and a neonatal telemedicine center in Arkansas
that has contributed to a significant decrease in statewide infant mortality.
As requested by both the House and Senate and required by the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2014, NIH has submitted a response to the National Academies’
Report on EPSCoR and related programs. As part of the NIGMS strategic planning
process, we are developing plans for enhancing access to resources for moving
discoveries and innovative ideas from laboratories in IDeA states into commercial
products. In particular, we are exploring support for regional biotechnology incubators
that would give faculty in IDeA states access to laboratory space, equipment, expertise
and advice required to make their work competitive for SBIR/STTR and venture capital
This past year, NIGMS-funded scientists broke new ground in a range of areas
relevant to health, including chemistry, microbe-host interactions, computer modeling
and metabolism. Selected examples include:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to answer any questions that the
Committee may have.
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