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Science News

Y2K NIH Budget Could Mean Sharp Increase in PD Funding

Following weeks of negotiation between Congressional Republicans and the White House, President Clinton signed into law the 1999-2000 appropriations bill to fund the Departments of Labor and of Health and Human Services. Although the overall amount was virtually unchanged from the last fiscal year, the specific provision for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was for a whopping $16.5 billion - $2.3 billion above last year's level. This represents the second year in a row of unprecedented fifteen percent increases for the agency that provides the bulk of support for basic medical research in America (an indeed, the world).

The National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS), which allocates most of the money for Parkinson's disease research, received a commensurate increase, from $920 million in 1999 to $1,055 million in 2000. And although none of this was specifically "earmarked" for Parkinson's research, it seemed clear to most observers that the new level of funding would make possible a significant increase in spending on Parkinson's research.

One important factor behind this optimism is the growing recognition among scientists that Parkinson's is the most solvable of all neurodegenerative diseases and that the research opportunities that are ripe for increased funding have never been greater. As Dr. Gerald Fischbach, director of the NINDS, put it at a recent Congressional hearing:

Because we know so much about Parkinson's, this disease will lead the way in confronting the broader problem of neurodegeneration. We have an extraordinary opportunity and a great challenge.

It was at the same hearing the Dr. Fischbach announced the funding of eight new centers of excellence in Parkinson's research.

These encouraging fiscal events still fall short of the Parkinson's community's long-sought demand for full funding of the Morris K. Udall Act, which authorized, but did not appropriate, $100 million in funding for focused Parkinson's research. Still, it is clear that Congress expects, and NINDS recognizes, the importance of devoting greatly increased attention to Parkinson's disease.

Source Date: Feb 02 2000