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Biomedical Optics & Medical Imaging

Stimulus compromise passes with some science funding restored

President Barack Obama, winning a $787-billion stimulus for an ailing economy within his first month in office, Saturday called the measure "a major milestone on our road to recovery.''

House and Senate conferees reached agreement on a compromise version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the bill passed both houses of Congress Friday. The final package includes the following research funding:

  • $8.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health, including expanding jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, and heart disease.
  • $1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants.
  • $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, for basic research in fundamental science and engineering.
  • $1.6 billion for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, which funds research in such areas as climate science, biofuels, high-energy physics, nuclear physics and fusion energy sciences.
  • $400 million for the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, a new program championed by Chairman Gordon, to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency in collaboration with industry.
  • $1 billion for NASA, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research.
  • $580 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, including the Technology Innovation Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

"Congress and the administration are to be congratulated on their foresight and bold actions in support of science and research," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "Support for basic research in health, climate and energy science including renewable energy development is vitally important not only in the U.S. but throughout the world."

Some funding for basic science research in the bill was restored during negotiations between the House and Senate, after the Senate version had removed many funds approved by the House.

"This package makes much-needed investments in science and technology as the path to ensuring our national economic competitiveness," said Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). "These are tough budgetary times, but the need for the U.S. to develop new technologies is greater than ever because of the economic conditions. The science and technology investments are 'two-fers.' We're putting people to work immediately--from scientists to engineers to teachers to construction crews--but the investments in science and technology will pay dividends in the benefit to our long term competitiveness. We wouldn't want to create jobs today only to lose them to foreign competition in the future."

Additional stories on the stimulus package: