Bloomberg News (4/21, Chase) reports, “The number of cancer research grants funded by the US government may rise 25 percent to 30 percent in the next two years as federal cash infusions replenish the budget for medical research,” according to John Niederhuber, director of the National Cancer Institute. As a result of “a 2.9 percent budget increase to $5 billion for fiscal 2009, and $1.3 billion for 2009 and 2010 from the economic stimulus package,” the agency will approve more projects, Niederhuber explains. The increase comes after “four years of a flat-lined budget for the cancer institute,” which, because of inflation, “meant cancer-research funding lost ground every year.”
Officials will now consider how best to allocate the additional funding, Reuters (4/21) points out. Niederhuber claims the agency’s discussions are geared toward methods to prevent and diagnose cancer earlier, in addition to treatments with fewer side-effects. He added that the agency will also expand a project to examine the DNA of tumors in an effort to find better treatments.
According to CQ HealthBeat (4/21, Norman), “the two pots of money are required to be kept separate.” The agency will fund “items including an increased number of meritorious, investigator-initiated projects; increases in funding for young, first-time investigators; a personalized cancer drug development platform; support for the Cancer Genome Atlas…and a network of physical sciences-oncology centers.”
Still, “Niederhuber said it’s difficult to know how many of the approximately 7,000 grant applications expected this year will eventually be approved at the end of the year,” MedPage Today (4/20, Smith) reported. The “grants are ranked in the peer review process and those that are above the payline get money.” The 2008 “payline was set at the 12th percentile,” but, “with the increased appropriation…the payline can be increased to the 16th percentile for 2009,” Niederhuber said.