September 19, 2006 - ASM Sends Letter to Congressman Barton on NIH Reauthorization

The Honorable Joe Barton
Chairman, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Barton:

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the largest single life science society with over 42,000 members, supports your efforts to reauthorize the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006 will help to ensure the continued success of the NIH as the world leader in sponsoring biomedical research. The ASM particularly appreciates your response to the concerns raised by the Society in its August 2, 2005 letter to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Your leadership and commitment to the NIH and biomedical research is very important, especially at a time when the NIH budget is experiencing a decline in the face of unprecedented opportunities to make major advances in human health.

The ASM is gratified that the NIH reauthorization legislation authorizes five percent increases in NIH funding for each of the three years of the bill. The ASM applauds the emphasis in the bill on investigator initiated research as the primary tool by which biomedical research is funded and conducted. Basic research and human ingenuity provide the underpinning of new knowledge that is necessary for successful medical breakthroughs. Increased funding for investigator initiated research projects is a critical issue when making funding decisions. The ASM looks forward to working with you to achieve increased funding for NIH and biomedical research.

We also note the establishment of the “common fund” which is already being implemented by the NIH and which should serve to stimulate trans-NIH research in areas of emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges or knowledge gaps that deserve special emphasis and would benefit from additional research that involves collaboration between two or more institutes or centers. The legislation also provides for an assessment of the progress of this reserve fund. We look forward to working with the NIH and Congress to assure the success of this new funding mechanism.

The ASM appreciates the opportunity to work with you and your staff on the NIH reauthorization bill and issues affecting biomedical research and training. We support your determination to provide increased resources for the NIH and look forward to working with you in the future.


Diane Griffin, PhD., President, American Society for Microbiology
Ruth Berkelman, MD, Chair, Public and Scientific Affairs Boar, ASM
Gail Cassell, PhD., Chair, Committee on Biomedical Research, ASM