News Scan for Mar 22, 2018

Fed budget bill and public health
CEPI, Georgetown partnership

House budget bill lifts funding for infectious disease, public health efforts

The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by the US House of Representatives today to fund the government through the end of September contains increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to official and media sources.

If passed by the Senate tomorrow by the midnight deadline to avert another government shutdown, then signed into law by President Trump, the spending package would increase the NIH budget by $3 billion to $37 billion. According to a Science report today, the increase for NIH came from bipartisan support and lawmakers' recent agreement to raise mandatory spending caps. The bill includes $40 million in new money targeting work on a universal flu vaccine, for a total of $100 million. Though Trump's budget called for eliminating the NIH's Fogarty International Center, which helps train foreign researchers and health providers, the plan approved today includes $76 million for the center.

Meanwhile, the CDC would receive $1.1 billion above 2017 funding, putting the total at $8.3 billion, according to a Nature report. Budget summaries from the House Appropriations Committee said within the CDC budget is $1.45 million for public health preparedness and response programs, reflecting an increase of $45 million. CDC would also receive $480 million to build a new biosafety level 4 lab.

Regarding other infectious disease related items in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget, Project Bioshield would receive $710 million for medical countermeasures, an increase of $200 million, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) would get $527 million, an increase of $25 million. Also, the budget includes $250 million for pandemic flu preparedness, an increase of $193 million.

Within the State Department, the budget puts $8.7 billion toward global health initiatives, including $6 billion to battle HIV/AIDS. Funding also provides $250 million for pandemic flu preparedness, an increase of $193 million.

Food safety spending at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) would increase $25 million above the 2017 spending level, putting the total at $1.06 billion. Total discretionary funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is $2.9 billion, which is $135 million higher than 2017 levels. With user’s feeds added in, the total FDA funding would be $5.15 billion.
Mar 22 Science report
Mar 22 Nature report
House Appropriation Committee background materials


CEPI announces first collaboration with a university

For the first time in the organization's brief history, the Center for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has partnered with a university to collaborate on research initiatives.

CEPI US yesterday announced a partnership with Georgetown University to work on joint research opportunities. The partnership will focus on the development of infectious disease vaccines.

"CEPI US is pleased to collaborate with Georgetown, an academic leader in global health," said Dawn O'Connell, JD, CEPI US president, in a press release. "We look forward to working with Georgetown's faculty, staff and students on a wide range of issues critical to CEPI's success."

The collaboration will also provide research opportunities for Georgetown students and post-doctoral candidates.

CEPI was founded in 2017 as a way to streamline and fund research for new vaccine candidates. It is supported by the governments of Norway, Germany, India and Japan; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Wellcome Trust; and the World Economic Forum. CEPI US is the US arm of CEPI, which is headquartered in Norway.
Mar 21 Georgetown University press release

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