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January 6, 2005

Federal Research Funding Outlook Tighter for FY05

Federal funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) will decline while spending on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will increase slightly in the fiscal year 2005 federal omnibus appropriations.

University research officials said they were disappointed but will continue to offer more services to researchers to keep the University competitive in vying for grants from both agencies.

“Our people are pretty good at going with the punch and going in with good proposals,” said George Klinzing, vice provost for research.

NSF, suffering its first budget cut in years, will operate at 1.9 percent below FY04 spending levels, according to the agency’s web site. NSF is funded at $5.47 billion, $105 million below last year and $232 million below what was requested this year.

“It’s certainly a cut, but not a lot of money nationally,” Klinzing said. He added that the impact of the cut is too early to predict.

Pitt’s Office of Research will continue its efforts to make researchers savvier about NSF funding and programs. For example, Klinzing said, the office takes faculty to Washington, D.C., every other year to “hear from the agencies and see where the opportunities are – it keeps the researchers nimble.”

Klinzing added that if the NSF budget declines next year, “we will be concerned. This will be a challenge for all of us.”

Even though NIH’s budget increased, Michelle Broido, associate vice chancellor for basic biomedical research and director of the Office of Research, Health Sciences, characterizes the funding stream as “flat, at best – it doesn’t keep up with inflation.”

The fiscal year 2005 budget for NIH of $28.6 billion is 2 percent higher that last year, which is well off the 15 percent annual increases between 1998 and 2003 and well behind the projected inflation rate for biomedical research of 3.5 percent, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Pitt ranked 8th nationally in NIH funding in FY03 at $348.2 million, the most recent year of which figures are available. The total does not include funding to the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.

“Money is tighter and we are seeking more aggressively for opportunities outside of NIH, both federal and non-federal,” she said. “And we’re passing on other opportunities to investigators to check out.”

The Health Sciences Office of Research continues to develop more opportunities for researchers to find funding including: facilitating the preparation of multi-investigator and multi-disciplinary grant applications; developing and administering resources for grant application development, and providing new faculty who are non-native English speakers with editorial assistance for grant applications.

-Mary Ann Thomas

Filed under: Feature,Volume 37 Issue 9

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