As Summer Peaks, the US House of Representative Appropriations Committee Proposes Budget that Keeps Fogarty International Center Intact

Most in the ‘global know’ were dumbfounded in March when both President Trump’s “skinny” budget and the subsequent detailed one explicitly targeted the Fogarty International Center (FIC) for closure.¹

Happy news arrived earlier this month when the appropriations committee for the House of Representatives approved a bill that did not close Fogarty but in fact allocated FIC a 1.5% increase ($73.4 million total budget).² Despite its teeny, tiny budget (described by some as amounting to “less than pencil dust” in the overall NIH budget, Fogarty’s work yields serious benefits to U.S citizens and the global community alike including Fogarty’s leadership in the Brain Disorders programme which has played such a central role in the globalization of US Neurology.³ A disclosure—as an investigator funded through the Brain Disorders program and a Fogarty International Center Advisory Board member, I am seriously conflicted here. So don’t take my word for it—you can read any number of Op Eds and commentaries testifying to the critical nature of the FIC.1, 4-6 The Senate appropriations committee take this up in September. We certainly live in interesting times. Stay tuned.

References

  1. McNeil DG. Muffling an early warning system. New York Times 2017 March 21, 2017;Sect. 4.
  2. US House of Representatives proposal preserves Fogarty, boosts NIH by $1B. In: NIH Fogerty International Center [online]. Available at: www.fic.nih.gov/News/GlobalHealthMatters/july-august-2017/Pages/house-ap…. Accessed August 14, 2017.
  3. Birbeck GL, Meyer AC, Ogunniyi A. Nervous system disorders across the life course in resource-limited settings. Nature 2015;527:S167-171.
  4. Drain PK, Subbaraman R, Heimburger DC. Preserving the Fogarty International Center – Benefits for Americans and the World. N Engl J Med 2017;377:9-11.
  5. Green A. US stands to lose as much as Africa if Fogarty closes. University World News 2017 16June17.
  6. Karim SSA, Karim QA, Abimiku A, et al. Closing the NIH Fogarty Center threatens US and global health. Lancet 2017;390:451.
Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen Birbeck is a neurologist who divides her time between the US and Africa. Her US academic home is the University of Rochester where she is the Rykenboer Professor of Neurology and Research Director for the Strong Epilepsy Center with adjunct appointments in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics and the Department of Public Health. Her additional skills in epidemiology, health services research, and tropical medicine are brought to bear during the 6-months annually she spends in Africa where she serves as Director for the Chikankata Epilepsy Care Team in rural Mazabuka, Zambia, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Zambia and a consultant for the Paediatric Research Ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Gretchen’s research programs are aimed at identifying opportunities to prevent or ameliorate the medical and social morbidities of common neurologic conditions in low-income, tropical settings with the ultimate goal of developing successful interventions feasible for scale up and broad implementation. She has been recognized as an Ambassador for Epilepsy by the International League against Epilepsy, a Global Health Research Ambassador by the US Paul Rogers Society, a National Outreach Scholar by the WK Kellogg Foundation and a Leader in Medicine by the American Medical Students Association.

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