$10.4B Increase in NIH Funding Could Increase HIV/AIDS Research, Bloomberg ReportsBloomberg on Wednesday examined how the $10.4 billion increase in NIH funding that is part of the $787 billion economic stimulus plan could boost funding for HIV/AIDS research. According to Bloomberg, more than 15,000 scientists have applied for "challenge grants," which focus on "new approaches" to HIV/AIDS and other diseases. In addition, NIH is expecting thousands more applications for research and infrastructure funding, including buildings and equipment. Research conducted with challenge grants is expected to produce results by 2011, according to Bloomberg.
Scientists who receive a portion of the stimulus money -- which includes $1.3 billion for construction and equipment at universities and institutions -- must use it by the end of September 2010. According to Bloomberg, NIH funding has remained at around $29 billion since 2005, and the agency has a $30.4 billion budget for the current fiscal year. Shirley Tilghman, a molecular biologist and president of Princeton University, said the funding increase is a "stunningly large number."
Theodora Hatziioannou, a researcher at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, applied for an expansion on an existing grant to continue her research on an HIV vaccine. "It's been very tough to get money over the last few years," Hatziioannou said, adding, "The only problem I see with the stimulus funding is that it's limited to two years." Hatziioannou is conducting research on a monkey protein that resists HIV-1, the strain that causes most HIV infections in humans. If Hatziioannou's team can discover a way for HIV to overcome this protein, monkeys could be used to test HIV-1 vaccine candidates before they are tested in humans. James Bradac, a virologist at the AIDS division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said researchers will "be able to test the full spectrum of HIV isolates" if Hatziioannou's research is successful (Gaouette, Bloomberg, 5/6). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.