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April 11, 2006 • Volume 3 / Number 15 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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NIH Budget Heard in the House

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On April 6, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education held a hearing on the NIH FY 2007 budget. NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who presented testimony before the committee, was accompanied by leadership from several NIH institutes, including NCI Deputy Director Dr. John Niederhuber.

Most committee members expressed concerns over the terms of the FY 2007 budget proposal and how it will, if adopted, impact the progress of scientific research.

In his oral testimony, Dr. Zerhouni discussed some of NIH's accomplishments since the doubling of the NIH budget from 1998 to 2003.

"Discoveries fueled by this investment are transforming the practice of medicine," Dr. Zerhouni said. "We can now clearly envision an era when the treatment paradigm of medicine will increasingly become more predictive, personalized, and preemptive."

One such example, Dr. Zerhouni explained, is a new test under development for women with breast cancer that uses gene expression profiles to predict whether some patients with breast cancer will benefit from, and thus should receive, chemotherapy. He also highlighted a recent report that, for the first time in seven decades, showed that the absolute number of annual cancer deaths has fallen.

Dr. Niederhuber had the opportunity to speak about NCI's cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG™) and the importance of making crosscutting scientific information available to researchers. Questions concerning NCI's Specialized Programs of Research Excellence program were also addressed. Dr. Niederhuber elaborated on NCI's efforts to fund the best quality of science available and affirmed the institute's commitment to translational research. Both Drs. Zerhouni and Niederhuber touted NCI's role in the development of vaccines against human papillomavirus, the primary cause of cervical cancer worldwide, as an important example of success in preempting disease, with potential to have great international impact.