NCI director John Niederhuber was around today to answer questions from conference attendees. First, though, he gave everyone the hard truth about the budget.
Number of years that funding for NCI has remained flat: 4
Rate of biomedical research inflation (apparently slightly higher than the overall rate of inflation in the United States): 3.8% per year
Percent decrease in purchasing power at the NCI since 2004: 15%
Niederhuber said that for the first few years of flat funding, NCI tried to cope with its shrinking budget by trimming the size of their grants rather than decreasing the number of awards. Those days are over, he said today, and this year NCI will offer fewer of their competing research project grants. Niederhuber also said that he was not optimistic about the possibility of any future budget increases, “no matter which party takes over the White House”.