Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment authored by U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La. and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., that will help Louisiana compete for and receive National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. Sen. Landrieu's amendment restores $45.9 million in funding for the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program -- for a total funding level of $276 million -- which funds research in states that are traditionally underrepresented within the NIH, including Louisiana. Funding is allocated to states in a merit-based, peer-reviewed, competitive grant process. Sen. Landrieu's amendment was included in the ¬ fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill, which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee today.
Currently, a few states receive a disproportionate amount of NIH funding. For example, last year California received more than $3.5 billion, while Louisiana received $156 million.
"To compete in the global economy, our country needs to support scientific research and development across the nation, not only in a few places. Not every scientific discovery occurs in Massachusetts or California, and we improve our overall competitiveness by diversifying our biomedical research capacity across the nation. The IDeA program is helping to build high-quality, university-based research infrastructure in underrepresented states like Louisiana. By bringing more scientific minds to the table, we are helping to ensure that America continues to lead the world in innovation and discovery," Sen. Landrieu said.
"I applaud Senator Landrieu's efforts to maintain this vital program, which forms a critical part of Tulane's biomedical research. This program is leading to the discovery of new treatments while boosting economic development in Louisiana. The IDeA program supports Tulane faculty research on chronic diseases of major importance to Louisiana and the nation while developing the nation's future workforce of research scientists. In the last 10 years Tulane has received more than $40 million in IDeA funding," said Tulane University President Scott S. Cowen.
"We are very grateful to Sen. Landrieu for working to maintain IDEA funding. This will be absolutely critical in improving Louisiana's biomedical research workforce," said K. Gus Kousoulas, Director of the LSU-Tulane NIH Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE).