« PreviousContinue »
committee members are about the idea that those kinds of costs might be charged against public funds that we administer.
As part of developing the financial management plan that I alluded to in the opening statement, one of the questions that faced us was how best to deal with the matters of indirect costs. One of the issues we've raised for discussion publicly with the research community and within the Department is that there might be some type of governmentwide reexamination of cost pools.
We raised this before the particulars became public about Stanford, but our thinking was there are at least two fundamental questions that many of us, including individual scientists, would like assurance about, and I am sure you want assurance about. One is the assurance that the research dollar is not paying for nonresearch items within the pool. The second is a bit more subtle, that the biomedical research dollar is reasonably matched to biomedical research costs. On any individual campus, it could well be the case that for a period of a few years, there might be more costs out of the physical sciences or some area impacting the total indirect cost pool.
It is probably unrealistic and unwise to expect a campus-by-campus matchup, but we would hope that on a nationwide basis, we ought to be able to have better assurance for ourselves and for those individual scientists and for the general public that there is a good correspondence between those biomedical science activities that manifest themselves in the indirect cost pool and those that are being paid within our grants. It will take a major, multiparty effort involving leaders in the academic community, experts in accounting and finance, leaders in the scientific community, and leaders in the government to get to the bottom of some of those questions. We would be happy to be part of it. We do not think we realistically could do it ourselves.
Senator HARKIN. I understand.
Dr. RAUB. With respect to the questions you raise, as a matter of professional judgment, I would be chary about the idea of offering individual scientists all of the money and telling each one to negotiate with his or her institution. In fairness to the institutional leaderships, the average scientist does not appreciate fully the nature of the costs, whether utilities, infrastructure support, or other types of things that are absolutely critical to make a first-class research institution run, but that may be virtually invisible to the individual scientist.
Our belief is those matters need to be judged from outside and judged by individuals knowledgeable about the science and technology as well as accounting practices and what things really cost. We hope to see refinements in the rate negotiating and auditing system rather than thousands of individual negotiations that would be driven perhaps more by emotion than by information.
Senator HARKIN. Thank you very much, Dr. Raub.
FUNDING FOR CANCER RESEARCH
Senator GORTON. Doctor, my notes here indicate a trend about which I would like to ask you. You may correct me if you feel that
I am factually inaccurate. I asked the overall question at an earlier hearing.
While NIH appropriations continue to rise this year, as has been so frequently the case in the past, they rise less than many other appropriations in the general health and human welfare area. Your overall request is 6 percent over fiscal year 1991, which is not likely to meet inflation, especially inflation in this field. Within the appropriations for NIH, the cancer programs seem to increase at`a lower rate. The figures I have indicate that funding for cancer research has decreased in the past decade in constant dollars by 6 percent while funding for all types of research programs have increased in real dollars by 27 percent.
Am I accurate in my observation? And if I am, what is the rationale for the relatively low priority placed on cancer, a disease perhaps affecting more Americans than any other?
Dr. RAUB. Your characterization of the trend is accurate, and one of the elements in this budget is to begin to correct that trend.
The trend came about from several factors, but mainly I believe from the combination of a heavy emphasis on one type of funding mechanism, namely, the research project grant, through the decade of the 1980's against a backdrop of spending by the National Cancer Institute in other types of mechanisms of support, research contracts, and research centers in particular. Over the course of the 1980's, those latter two mechanisms did not fare as well either internally or in the overall budget process as did the project grants. When that is compounded year after year, it creates the trend that you describe.
At the same time, through the 1980's, some of the most exciting basic science anywhere in biology and medicine has been going on in relationship to cancer. In particular, the role of the so-called oncogenes and the tumor suppressor genes open not only new ideas for research, but new leads for cancer treatment. In recognition of that, Dr. Broder has made a very strong case and will continue, I am sure, to have the support at higher levels of the administration that these issues ought to be redressed and that we ought to be sure that our budget allocations provide for those new research opportunities.
Senator GORTON. Well, you say that you are in the process of redressing them. Where do I see in the figures of this budget that there is the beginning of a turnaround?
Dr. RAUB. The overall figure for growth for the cancer appropriation does not stand out, I agree, from the overall growth of the NIH. The increase for cancer is a little under 6 percent. The overall NIH increase is about 6 percent. But there is a particular allocation within the research project grant line and within the cooperative clinical research line for clinical trials. It is there that we give a special boost for the cancer research programs to recognize those emerging opportunities. We agree, though, that 1 year will not do that. This will need to be a sustained effort over many years.
Senator GORTON. You are representing that a return of attention or an increasing attention to cancer and cancer research is a fundamental goal of the NIH?
Dr. RAUB. Yes, sir.
Senator GORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator HARKIN. Senator Cochran.
DISTRIBUTION OF RESEARCH FUNDS
Senator COCHRAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Raub, last year the committee included some language in its report at my request dealing with the NIH distribution of grants and fellowship awards. Specifically the language refers to a program of the National Science Foundation, entitled the Experimental Program to Stimulate. Competitive Research, or EPSCOR. The National Science Foundation under this program has made some grants to States to develop committees to review the capability within the States of doing experimental studies and research that could be partially funded by the National Science Foundation.
The whole point of this is to try to broaden the base for competent research throughout the country, and rather than seeing, as in the past, all the funds going to the big superstar institutionsHarvard and MIT in the Northeast, Stanford on the west coast, and other universities that are very well known. This means that States like Iowa and Mississippi and maybe even Washington come up with the short end of the stick and really do not get much support.
Senator GORTON. We can't make that claim, Senator.
Senator COCHRAN. Oh, you get a lot of money now. Well, we will leave out Washington from this. [Laughter.]
The purpose of this is to really examine the resources in some of the smaller, less well-known States and universities to see whether or not there are scientists who are competent and who are engaged in research programs that should be supported by Federal agencies like the National Science Foundation or NIH or the Department of Energy and others.
As a result of the National Science Foundation program, for example, there have been some research grants won by smaller colleges and universities and other institutions. The matching situation is a three-for-one match. The States provide the three, and the Federal Government or agency provides the one. So, what happens is that we are encouraging more support for research within the States by having a program of this kind, we are strengthening a lot of research programs, and we are attracting good graduate students into programs and universities where they otherwise might not be attracted.
Anyway, my purpose in bringing this up is to inquire of you as to whether or not the National Institutes of Health has been able to complete its study that was directed in this committee's report language last year. What is your impression of a plan or program of this kind for the National Institutes of Health?
Dr. RAUB. I am pleased to have a chance to respond to that, Senator. We think the point you have made now and in the report language previously is well-taken about the maldistribution of research funds throughout the country. We also believe like you that a more broad-based, diverse, and heterogenous research establishment is for the good of our mission.
To that end, we have developed a plan. I can describe its elements to you now. The document describing that plan is now in the
clearance process in the Department. It is delayed because I asked for some refinements to be made in it before it went forward.
The thrust of the plan is as follows. It begins by recognizing the solid experience of the EPSCOR program in NSF as well as our own experience with a complementary program that we call AREA, Academic Research Enhancement Awards. This latter program, developed several years ago, is aimed at individual scientists in institutions that for one reason or another have not been traditionally a major recipient of our funding.
Many of those institutions are in the States you identify, but others can be in States where the overall funding is very high, but where these institutions have not been major participants. We now have $13 to $14 million supporting more than 100 project grants in this AREA program.
The approach we are proposing in response to your request is a hybrid that combines what we think are the best features of the AREA program and the EPSCoR. The general idea is to identify some number of States, up to 20, that have not traditionally been major recipients of NIH research funding. Academic institutions from within those States will be invited to apply for a 1-year planning grant. This will give the institutions, interacting with the governor's office and whatever other mechanism the State chooses, an opportunity to plan and develop a strategy. The next phase will provide an opportunity for 3-year institutional development awards that would enable institutions to implement their plans and to position themselves to be better competitors for the wide array_of funding mechanisms available from the NIH, including the AREA program and our regular grant system.
We have suggested State matching funds on a one-to-two ratio, one part from the State and two from NIH. All of this is clearly negotiable, and we look forward to receiving the views of this subcommittee and others as to the elements in that plan.
DISTRIBUTION OF RESEARCH FUNDS
Senator COCHRAN. I really appreciate your being able to give us that report. I am encouraged by it, and I think that it certainly meets the challenge that we laid out in the language in our report last year.
Let me follow up with just this question and that is whether or not in this budget request there is room for us to make an appropriation available to support this new initiative. And if that is true, could you tell us how much money we need to put in this bill in order to give you a chance to carry out this planning grant program?
Dr. RAUB. There is not an explicit item in the 1992 budget for that plan since it had not been developed when the budget was completed. We have identified it as one of the items eligible for funding consideration from the director's discretionary fund requested for 1992, should the Congress agree to provide that. And, of course, it would also be considered for the 1993 budget which is being developed now. We estimate that a level of about $2 million would start this program.
Senator COCHRAN. Well, I hope we can find a way to provide those funds in our appropriation for NIH so that you can get this
new program started. I think it is interesting that you are building on the AREA program that you had started several years ago. If I am not mistaken, I think some of the scientists and physicians at the University of Mississippi Medical Center may have qualified for some of these funds, as a matter of fact. In the physiology department specifically, I think we have seen some funds come to the university for research by individual scientists.
The 20 States that will be invited for participation in this planning grant-can you tell us if you have identified them or not? I would recommend very strongly you include Iowa and Mississippi. [Laughter.]
Dr. RAUB. It might be hard to include Iowa. I think we can include Mississippi.
Senator COCHRAN. Well, I appreciate that. That would be helpful. Dr. RAUB. May I just add, sir, we have not agreed yet on a particular list. What we have done is develop criteria. For example, research funding for almost one-half of the States in the country accounts for only about 5 percent of total NIH funding, which is how we arrived at approximately 20 States. If we broaden that very far, we will diffuse the program and create too intense a competition. So, part of the further planning will be to select a number of States that we would all recognize as the most appropriate targets, but have funding adequate to provide reasonable opportunity to achieve what you have identified as, and what we agree is, an important goal.
Senator COCHRAN. I think it may be helpful to the committee just for our records and information if we could have a table that would show us the funding of these research activities in each State during the last fiscal year.
Dr. RAUB. We have such tables and listings included in the report that is under review now and I will be pleased to provide that now. We will be glad to supplement that with any more specific information you would find helpful.
[The information follows:]
FISCAL YEAR 1990 NIH AWARDS TO STATES/TERRITORIES BY DESCENDING
TOTAL DOLLAR AMOUNT