Each year, federal agency leaders submit their budget proposals to the U.S. Congress for review. Often, the committee of jurisdiction will request formal testimony from an agency, which provides an opportunity for the department to speak directly to the elected officials who have the authority to fund programs and projects of interest.

In April 2019, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), presented the NIH’s 2020 fiscal budget before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Collins was accompanied by various NIH department leaders ranging from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to provide explanation for their respective priorities.

Their testimony elaborated on the following points:

  • Biomedical research at NIH seeks to push forward the frontier of knowledge, from basic science to translational research to clinical trials. NIH will invest its resources to ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of innovation and discovery.
  • To support the millions of Americans affected by opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose, NIH launched the Helping to End Addiction Long-Term Initiative. NIH will build on basic science discoveries to accelerate the development of novel medications and devices to treat all aspects of the opioid addiction cycle, including chronic use, withdrawal symptoms, craving, relapse, and overdose.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease among children and adolescents in the United States. The 2020 budget provides $50 million for a data initiative that will support the development of new, more effective, and safer treatments for childhood cancers and will facilitate data aggregation to create a federated, comprehensive, and shared resource to support childhood cancer research.
  • AIDS is one of humanity’s deadliest and most persistent epidemics. The NIH-wide HIV research program will sustain the accomplishments already made and secure future advancements to prevent the spread of HIV; improve health outcomes for persons with, at risk for, or affected by HIV; and ultimately to find a cure for HIV. The 2020 budget includes $6 million for NIH to support the president’s Ending HIV Epidemic Initiative.

Budget conversations for the 2020 fiscal year continue, but NIH—and its related agencies—are wasting no time. The institute is forging ahead with new programs and efforts to address health issues throughout the country.