HHS FY 2017 Budget in Brief - NIH

National Institutes of HealthNational Institutes of Health (NIH)

An organ on a chip -- they're flexible polymer substrates with hollow channels lined with living cells.

The mission of the National Institutes of Health is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.

NIH Budget Overview

(Dollars in millions)

Institutes/Centers 2015 /1 2016 2017 2017
+/‑ 2016
National Cancer Institute 4,953 5,214 5,894 +680
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute 2,996 3,114 3,114
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research 398 413 413
National Inst. of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases 1,899 1,966 1,966
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke 1,605 1,695 1,695
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 4,418 4,716 4,716
National Institute of General Medical Sciences 2,372 2,512 2,512
Eunice K. Shriver Natl. Inst. of Child Health & Human Development 1,287 1,338 1,338
National Eye Institute 677 708 708
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: Labor/HHS Appropriation 667 694 694
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: Interior Appropriation 77 77 77
National Institute on Aging 1,198 1,598 1,598
Natl. Inst. of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases 522 542 542
Natl. Inst. on Deafness and Communication Disorders 405 423 423
National Institute of Mental Health 1,434 1,519 1,519
National Institute on Drug Abuse 1,016 1,051 1,051
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 447 467 467
National Institute of Nursing Research 141 146 146
National Human Genome Research Institute 499 513 513
Natl. Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering 327 344 344
Natl. Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities 271 281 281
Natl. Center for Complementary and Integrative Health 124 130 130
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences 633 685 685
Fogarty International Center 68 70 70
National Library of Medicine 337 396 396
Office of the Director 1,414 1,571 1,716 +145
Buildings and Facilities 129 129 129
Total, Program Level 30,311 32,311 33,136 +825


Less Funds from Other Sources 2015 /1 2016 2017 2017
+/‑ 2016
PHS Evaluation Funds -715 -780 -847 -67
Type 1 Diabetes Research (NIDDK) /2 -150 -150 -150
Additional Mandatory Funds -1,825 -1,825
Total, Discretionary Budget Authority 29,446 31,381 30,314 -1,067


Appropriations 2015 /1 2016 2017 2017
+/‑ 2016
Labor/HHS Appropriation 29,370 31,304 30,237 -1,067
Interior Appropriation 77 77 77
Full-Time Equivalents 17,823 18,000 18,000


Table Footnotes

1/ In addition, the FY 2015 appropriation (P.L. 113-235) provided $239 million of emergency resources for Ebola response and preparedness research activities.

2/ These mandatory funds were appropriated in P.L. 114‑10, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, and P.L. 113-93, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.

NIH Programs and Services

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the nation’s medical research agency and leads the world in supporting innovative multidisciplinary biomedical and behavioral research. NIH investments across its 27 Institutes and Centers in basic research support translating scientific discovery into tangible improvements in our health care system. To date, 148 NIH supported researchers have been sole or shared winners of the Nobel Prize.

The FY 2017 Budget includes $33.1 billion, an increase of $825 million over FY 2016, for NIH to accelerate groundbreaking research on cancer, precision medicine, and the human brain, and to maintain the significant investments enacted in FY 2016. The Budget supports the Administration’s priority to continue a strong focus in biomedical research that will increase the nation’s knowledge base, cultivate a world-class scientific workforce, provide opportunity for new discovery, and promote longer and healthier lives.

In FY 2017, NIH estimates it will support a total of 36,440 research project grants, an increase of 600 above FY 2016, including a total of 9,946 new and competing grants. Of the total, approximately 81 percent of NIH resources will support the research community external to NIH which includes over 30,000 individuals at more than 2,500 organizations comprised of universities, medical schools, research facilities, and hospitals. The remaining 19 percent of resources will be invested within the agency to support clinical and basic research, as well as training to ensure that knowledge among NIH physician and scientists is leading the world.

NIH FY 2017 Strategic Research Priorities

In late 2015, NIH released an agency-wide research strategic plan for FY 2016 through FY 2020. This plan establishes the research framework for the next five years and describes how NIH will work with public and private sector partners to promote scientific innovation while also continuing to serve as wise stewards of resources to optimize investments for biomedical research. NIH will use this strategic plan to harmonize decisions across the agency while maintaining the visions of individual Institutes, Centers, and program offices. The NIH strategy focuses on four independent objectives:

1. Advance Opportunities in Biomedical Research;

2. Foster Innovation by Setting NIH Priorities;

3. Enhance Scientific Stewardship; and,

4. Excel as a Federal Science Agency by Managing for Results.

In FY 2017, NIH will use this strategic vision to focus on the priorities of generating basic science findings, translating these basic discoveries into improvements in personal and public health, the enhanced use of comprehensive data sets and technology, and recruiting a diverse, creative, and talented workforce upon which the robust research enterprise depends.

The Foundation for Discoveries: Basic Research - Approximately 52 percent of the NIH research budget is devoted to basic biomedical and behavioral research. Genomics and proteomics have provided insights into how the basic components of life function. Advances in stem cells, imaging, and other technologies have transformed our understanding of how life works.

Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative : In FY 2017, NIH plans to spend $195 million, an increase of $45 million above FY 2016, to continue to address fundamental neuroscience questions and advance understanding of the human brain. In order to accomplish the ambitious goals of this Initiative, NIH will increase its investment to support groundbreaking neuroscience research, neuroimaging, and training initiatives, as well as potential projects to collaborate with industry to test and develop devices for mapping and tuning brain circuitry. Measuring activity at the scale of neural networks in living organisms has the potential to decode sensory experience, memory, emotion, and thought. Furthermore, developing these technologies may help reveal the mechanisms that underlie the pathology in various brain disorders and provide new therapeutic avenues to treat, cure, and prevent neurological and psychiatric conditions.

Translating Discovery into Health: NIH is committed to rapidly turning observations in the laboratory into effective interventions that improve the health of individuals. These new interventions include diagnostics, therapeutics, medical procedures, behavioral changes, and disease prevention strategies.

Antimicrobial Resistance : NIH estimates it will spend $413 million in FY 2017, the same as FY 2016, to respond comprehensively to the growing public health threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria. With antibiotic-resistant infections claiming the lives of 23,000 Americans each year, NIH is continuing to invest in research to support of the Administration’s National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. These funds will accelerate the development of new therapeutics, vaccines, and first-in-class drugs to more effectively treat these “superbugs.” To identify the root causes of this problem, NIH conducts basic research on how antimicrobial resistance emerges, spreads, and evolves. NIH is also intensifying studies on rapid diagnostics to help ensure that dangerous strains are quickly identified and appropriately treated; developing a national database of genome sequence data of all reported human antimicrobial-resistant infections; and creating a rapid response clinical trial network to test new antibiotics on individuals infected with resistant strains. NIH-funded researchers recently made a major breakthrough in the fight against antimicrobial resistance by using a new screening technology to discover a new, highly effective antibiotic identified from ordinary topsoil. This promising development is just one piece of NIH’s ongoing efforts to fight antibiotic resistance.

Alzheimer’s Disease : NIH will spend $910 million on Alzheimer’s research in FY 2017, the same as FY 2016. The Budget continues to invest in aggressive efforts to understand and make progress in treating and preventing this disease. Research supported by NIH and other organizations has greatly expanded knowledge and understanding of brain function, risk factors, treatment, and prevention. NIH-supported imaging studies have provided dramatic insights into the disease’s causes and progression, and the need to initiate clinical trials at the earliest stages of disease has become increasingly clear. While much more remains to be discovered, recent research has led to more than 90 drugs in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease with many more in the pipeline awaiting regulatory approval to enter human testing. In addition, the Accelerating Medicines Partnership, a NIH-led public-private partnership to transform and accelerate drug development, recently launched a new Alzheimer’s Big Data portal to catalyze new analyses and pharmaceutical discovery projects. These investments will contribute to meeting the goal to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, in support of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.

Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot

As a part of the cancer “moonshot” announced by the President in the State of the Union Address, the Budget provides an increase of $755 million to accelerate progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer. The Budget’s multi-year cancer initiative, with support beginning in FY 2016 within NIH, provides additional resources to NIH and the Food and Drug Administration in FY 2017, to improve health and outcomes for patients through investments in research and infrastructure, and brings together researchers across sectors and scientific disciplines. Within the $755 million total, the Budget allocates $680 million for NIH and $75 million for FDA.

Given new insights into the causes of cancer and its diagnosis and treatment, this initiative is poised to increase resources to make the most promising breakthroughs available to patients across America. Targeted investments will advance research on new approaches to preventing and treating cancer, such immunotherapy, enhanced early detection technologies, developing vaccines to prevent cancers caused by viruses, genomic analysis of tumor cells, and identifying common treatment opportunities for rare pediatric cancers through better collect and analysis of tumor specimens. This effort will drive progress toward a national effort to make dramatic progress in fight against cancer.

Cancer : In FY 2017, NIH plans to spend $6.3 billion on cancer research and treatment development, an increase of $680 million above FY 2016. NIH has been at the forefront of many exciting advancements such as transitioning the treatment of cancer from a one-size-fits-all approach to one in which treatments are based on the molecular characteristics of each patient’s disease. Additionally, National Cancer Institute researchers have identified several types of gastrointestinal cancers that have tumor-specific mutations that can be recognized by the immune system, potentially offering a new therapeutic opportunity for patients with these tumors.

Precision Medicine Initiative

The convergence of incredible breakthroughs in genomics, computing, and molecular medicine has paved the way for a new era of medicine: one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. The Budget proposes a HHS total of $309 million to continue scaling up the Precision Medicine, which is focused on developing treatments, diagnostics, and prevention strategies tailored to the individual genetic characteristics of each patient. This includes $300 million at NIH, an increase of $100 million above FY 2016. The increase funding will support a major scale up of a research cohort of a million or more individuals to extend precision medicine to many more diseases. In addition, funding will continue for the National Cancer Institute to lead research efforts on cancer genomics.

The Budget also includes $4 million for FDA and $5 million for ONC to pursue standards and technology efforts that support precision medicine and protect user privacy.

Precision Medicine Initiative logo.

NIH is making significant progress on this project. BY the end of 2016, NIH expects to complete a pilot of volunteer recruitment and engagement strategies for the 1 million participant cohort, enroll tens of thousands of individuals, start collecting bio-specimens for analysis, use the collected data to launch multiple research studies, secure partnerships with at least five major healthcare provider organizations, and deploy a secure, customizable digital platform for data collection and interaction with participants. A sustained investment is needed to continue scaling up these activities in FY 2017.

Building upon these recent developments, NIH plans to expand investments through an initiative to support the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot. In FY 2017, the Budget provides $680 million to NIH for this initiative in order to galvanize the nation’s efforts to combat cancer. NIH will pursue new cancer vaccine technology, investigate novel diagnostic tests that detect tumors through simple blood tests, and expand access to clinical trial data in an effort to reduce the number of people who develop cancer and improve outcomes for those who do. These funds will also be used to invest in the Vice President’s Exceptional Opportunities in Cancer Research Fund, ensuring that resources are available to pursue investigations, at academic sites or public-private partnerships, worthy of potential breakthrough status.

Strengthen and Sustain a Diverse and Talented Biomedical Research Workforce: The biomedical research workforce is the backbone is scientific discovery. Supporting a diverse, creative, innovative, and productive group of young scientists is key to sustaining the nation’s biomedical research enterprise and achieving improved health for the American people. To fully support and sustain the best scientists in the biomedical workforce, NIH will expand ways to revitalize physician-scientist training, continue to encourage early stage investigators, further enhance workforce diversity, and support more person-centered grants that focus on an investigator’s entire research program and their history of success rather than a specific project. In FY 2017, NIH will continue to emphasize several High-Risk, High Reward research programs to allow scientists more freedom to innovate and explore new lines of inquiry.

In order to continue to attract the brightest minds to biomedical research, NIH is committed to enhancing the diversity of its funded workforce. NIH will also continue to implement a series of steps to expand its effort to recruit and advance the careers of people traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral research workforce. The Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-funded Workforce initiative will make training awards focused on learning how to attract and retain students from diverse backgrounds into biomedical research, increase access to high‑quality research mentorship, and develop and disseminate best practices for training and mentorship. The Budget includes an estimated total of $849 million to support 16,421 research scientist trainees through the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards program. To maintain stipends’ purchasing power, NIH proposes a two percent stipend increase for predoctoral and postdoctoral recipients in FY 2017.

Advancing HIV/AIDS Research: In August 2015, NIH announced a strategic approach to investing resources for HIV/AIDS research by focusing on a set of new high priority areas:

  • Reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS, including by the development of safe and effective vaccines;
  • Develop the next generation of HIV therapies with improved safety and ease of use;
  • Improve our capability to prevent and treat HIV-associated comorbidities and co-infections; and,
  • Support cross cutting areas of basic research, health disparities, and training.

These priorities, which were presented during a meeting of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, were identified by conducting a review of the agency-wide HIV/AIDS portfolio. The strategic focus areas will ensure that research funded is aligned with new HIV/AIDS research opportunities.

In FY 2017, NIH estimates it will maintain the level of support for research on HIV/AIDS from FY 2016 at $3.0 billion. Activities under this new framework will invest resources in the highest priority areas and continue to support our ability to achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Federal Action Plan. With the evidence that pre-exposure preventive treatments and test-and-treat programs can reduce the incidence of new cases, coupled with the growing promise of safe, effective, and affordable vaccines, the world can realistically imagine achieving an AIDS-free generation.

Fiscal Year 2017 NIH Budget.

Research Project Grants: NIH estimates that it will allocate $18.2 billion, or 55 percent of its total budget, to finance a total of 36,440 competitive, peer reviewed, and largely investigator-initiated research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2017. Of these grants, NIH anticipates supporting 9,946 new and competing RPGs, a decrease of 807 grants from FY 2016.

Intramural Buildings and Facilities

In FY 2017, NIH requests a total of $179 million for intramural Buildings and Facilities, an increase of $34 million above FY 2016, to sustain and improve the physical infrastructure used to carry out quality biomedical research on the NIH campuses. The Building and Facilities mechanism total also includes $50 million, an increase of $34 million, requested within the National Cancer Institute budget for high need facilities repair and improvement projects at its Frederick, Maryland campus. These investments directly support mission critical activities by ensuring that our infrastructure can support the innovate work of our leading scientists.

Mechanism 2015 2016 2017 2017 +/− 2016
Research Project Grants (dollars) 16,442 17,821 18,207 +386
[ # of Non‑Competing Grants] [23,261] [23,367] [24,608] [+1,241]
[ # of New/Competing Grants] [9,540] [10,753] [9,946] [-807]
[ # of Small Business Grants] [1,578] [1,720] [1,886] [+166]
[ Total # of Grants ] [34,379] [35,840] [36,440] [+600]
Research Centers 2,663 2,645 2,589 -56
Other Research 1,803 2,011 2,084 +73
Research Training 758 830 849 +18
Research and Development Contracts 2,828 2,915 3,173 +258
Intramural Research 3,410 3,582 3,615 +33
Research Management and Support 1,620 1,685 1,719 +34
Office of the Director 573 600 645 +45
NIH Common Fund (non‑add) [546] [676] [776] [+100]
Buildings and Facilities 137 145 179 +34
NIEHS Interior Appropriation (Superfund) 77 77 77
Total, Program Level 30,311 32,311 33,136 +825


Less Funds Allocated from Other Sources 2015 2016 2017 2017 +/− 2016
PHS Evaluation Funds -715 -780 -847 -67
Type 1 Diabetes Research (NIDDK) /1 -150 -150 -150
Additional Mandatory Funds 1,825 +1,825
Total, Budget Authority 29,446 31,381 30,314 -1,067
Labor/HHS Appropriation /2 29,369 31,304 30,237 -1,067
Interior Appropriation 77 77 77


Table Footnotes

1/ These mandatory funds were appropriated in P.L. 114 10, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, and P.L. 113‑93, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.

2/ In addition, the FY 2015 appropriation (P.L. 113-235) provided $239 million in emergency resources for Ebola response and preparedness research activities.

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