House bill ups funding for HIT-enabled medical research

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The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday released its draft Fiscal Year 2019 funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services, including substantial increases for major medical research initiatives that leverage healthcare IT.

The legislation includes $38.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, an increase of $1.25 billion above the Fiscal Year 2018 enacted level and $4.1 billion above the President’s budget request. Among the NIH projects that are big winners in the bill:

  • $437 million (a $147 million increase) for the All of Us research initiative (previously called the Precision Medicine Initiative)
  • $400 million (a $100 million increase) for the Cancer Moonshot research initiative
  • $429 million (a $29 million increase) for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative

“For the fourth consecutive year, the bill allocates increased funds for the National Institutes of Health at $1.25 billion, for a total of $38.3 billion,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee. “These funds will greatly benefit numerous medical research programs, combat opioid abuse and support the search for cures for many cancers and diseases.”

NIH’s All of Us research program seeks to recruit more than one million volunteers for the longitudinal study to contribute their physical, genomic, and electronic health record data. In addition to gathering blood and urine samples as well as access to EHR data, information will be collected from volunteers in the program through mobile technology, physical measurements and surveys. The goal is to create one of the largest and most diverse datasets of its kind for medical research.

Also See: NIH starts national enrollment for PMI cohort

The BRAIN Initiative is a large-scale NIH program to push the boundaries of neuroscience research and equip scientists with insights from big data necessary for treating a wide variety of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia. Funding is being used to create a network of integrated centers, collaborating laboratories and data resources to make molecular, anatomical and functional data about brain cells available to the broader research community.

The Cancer Moonshot initiative is attempting to achieve a decade’s worth of progress against the disease in just five years. Data sharing is critical to the effort and will require health IT systems and software applications to communicate with one another and exchange data to derive actionable insights.

The bill, funding all of these NIH initiatives, will be considered in subcommittee today.

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