Friday, December 08, 2006

Autism Researchers, Rejoice!

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders also have reason to be more hopeful. The New York Times reports that Congress has approved legislation authorizing $945 million for autism research, screening and treatment, a 50% increase over current levels.
Autism Research Financing Is Approved

... The legislation provides the National Institute of Health with a list of possible research areas related to autism spectrum disorder, including an examination of whether the increase in autism diagnoses is caused by environmental factors.
On the other hand, the Association of American Universities has provided some alarming information about NIH funding in the current fiscal year:

With FY07 funding for the National Institutes of Health to be covered through a continuing resolution (CR) until at least February 15, NIH institutes are making FY07 grant-funding decisions within a temporary budget that is frozen at or slightly lower than the FY06 level. Each Institute has wide latitude in managing its grant portfolio, within the bounds of guidance from the Office of the NIH Director, but such guidance has not yet been issued. Ultimately, the most reliable source of information for faculty members with NIH grants is their NIH program officers.

AAU staff has learned the following about how institutes will operate under a continuing resolution:

-- Until the FY07 appropriation is finalized, Institutes can't know how far down the pay line they can fund. Therefore, they will tend to make conservative choices so that they have the flexibility to adjust to the FY07 budget once it is known.

-- Institutes are able to fund new grants under a continuing resolution.

-- It is likely that competing continuation grants--called Type 2s--that have a December start date will begin to be paid this month. Some institutes may already have started paying them, albeit at conservative levels that will be adjusted to the final FY07 appropriation.

-- Grants to support new research starts--Type 1s--will be delayed in many institutes until January or later. However, even if there is no final appropriation by January or February, most Institutes will begin to pay Type 1 grants (which face the same pay line challenge described above for Type 2s).

-- As was done for FY06, funding for non-competing continuation grants in years two, three or four will be funded at 80 percent of what was promised until the FY07 appropriation is signed into law.

-- It is worth recalling that once NIH had its final FY06 appropriation last year, continuation grants received 97.65 percent of what the Notice of Grant Award had promised for FY06.
But recalling that doesn't help researchers who may be struggling financially between now and (at least) February 15, 2007.

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At December 08, 2006 12:44 PM, Blogger Maddy said...

It is certainly a step in the right direction.
Best wishes

At March 20, 2007 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Science, Vol 315, January 5, 2007 - "New Autism Law Focuses on Patients, Environment"

"What reauthorization bills don't provide, however, is any money. And with most government agencies preparing for flat budgets in 2007 (see p. 24), Jon Retzlaff of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, says it's "inconceivable" that legislators will divert scarce NIH dollars to autism."

At March 20, 2007 12:40 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Thanks for pointing to the Science article. So basically, legislators can "get credit" for voting to increase funding without actually allocating the funds. What a sham!


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