The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by President Obama on February 17, aims to restore the Nation to economic health. To establish conditions for lasting prosperity, the stimulus package will invest in research to protect and improve the physical and mental health of our citizens. The National Institutes of Health is receiving a one-time stimulus infusion of $10.4 billion to support groundbreaking studies, modernize the research infrastructure, and engage more people in scientific endeavors. All the projects must create and preserve jobs and be completed within 2 years.
To fund programs that will yield the greatest payoff in improved public health, NIDA has set two overarching priorities. Its first is to make progress toward eradication of smoking addiction. Smoking causes an estimated 400,000 premature deaths in the United States annually and costs the economy hundreds of billions of dollars in medical care and lost work. NIDA's second priority is to elucidate the ways that genes affect brain development and structure. Such knowledge will advance our ability to treat addiction and many other conditions.
NIDA plans to apply stimulus funds to advance several strategic approaches to yield powerful therapeutic interventions. These include (1) conducting safety and efficacy studies of new medications to treat addiction and prevent relapse; (2) accelerating followup studies on anti-addiction vaccines and augmenting immunotherapy development; (3) developing biomarkers—screens for drug exposure and addiction vulnerability—that practitioners can use to target anti-addiction efforts; (4) identifying new targets for treatment by discovering genetic variations that affect behavioral hallmarks of addiction; (5) determining how chronic drug exposure and other environmental factors activate or silence genes; and (6) learning to use genetic profiles to tailor therapy to individual patients.
Stimulus package resources will allow NIDA to support many skilled scientists, including some in small laboratories, whom it would otherwise not have the resources to fund. The new funding will also enable science teachers and students to participate in summer projects in NIDA-funded labs.
NIDA plans to allocate its stimulus funding to applications previously reviewed as well as to new proposals submitted under three grant programs:
- The Research and Research Infrastructure Grand Opportunities (GO) program (http://archives.drugabuse.gov/recovery/gogrants.html) will fund large-scale research projects to accelerate breakthroughs, support early and applied research on cutting-edge technologies, and develop approaches to improve interactions among multidisciplinary research teams.
- Challenge Grants in Health and Scientific Research (http://archives.drugabuse.gov/recovery/NIDAChallenge.html) are designed to yield quick advances by filling knowledge gaps, spurring new technologies, and strengthening methodology.
- Core Center Grants (http://archives.drugabuse.gov/recovery/p30corecenters.html) are for faculty recruitment to enhance research resources through the multidisciplinary biomedical research core centers.