On Thursday, U-M Professor Dr. Jessy Grizzle took part in a full day of events celebrating the fifth anniversary of the National Robotics Initiative (NRI). The NRI is a multi-agency effort to accelerate the development and use of robots that work beside or cooperatively with people. The series of events on the Hill highlighted some of the advances the NRI has stimulated and discussed the importance of U.S. leadership in robotics.
Dr. Grizzle began the day by meeting with some of the offices within the Michigan delegation. Afterwards, there was a lunch briefing and exhibition featuring some of the NRI grant recipients. On display at the exhibition was the collaborative effort between U-M, Georgia Tech and Carnegie Mellon. The team focuses on bipedal and wearable robots that can be used as lower limb prosthetics. The U-M team was interviewed on PBS News Hour, which can be viewed here (starting ~ 1:45).
Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY2017 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill
On Thursday, June 9, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY2017 Labor-HHS-Eduation (L-HHS-E) Appropriations bill by a vote of 29 to 1. The Senate bill would fund NIH at $34.1 billion, a $2 billion, or 6.2 percent, increase above the FY16 enacted level. The legislation also added funding that would be targeted to such areas as Alzheimer's disease research, the Precision Medicine Initiative, the BRAIN Initiative, and antibiotic resistant bacteria research. The bill also recommends $261 million, a $126 million or 93 percent increase above FY2016, for programs targeted at fighting opioid abuse.
L-HHS-E Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) said: “First, the bill provides a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health for research efforts that give hope to families battling life-threatening diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, and to help more Americans live longer, healthier lives."
Further details of the bill are below, from the Appropriations Committee's website:
• $300 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, an increase of $100 million;
• $1.39 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, an increase of $400 million;
• $250 million, an increase of $100 million, for the BRAIN Initiative to map the human brain;
• $333.4 million, an increase of $12.5 million, for the Institutional Development Award;
• $463 million, an increase of $50 million, to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria;
• $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act;
• Increases to every Institute and Center to continue investments in innovative research that will advance fundamental knowledge and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures to improve the health of all Americans.
Senate Considers National Defense Authorization Act
This week, the Senate began consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2943). Of note, on June 7, the Senate approved an amendment offered by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to protect medical research supported by the Department of Defense (DOD). The vote was 66 to 32. The amendment stripped language from the bill that would have limited congressionally directed medical research funded by DOD to those areas the Secretary of Defense determined were directly relevant to the military.
Earlier this morning, the Senate voted to end debate on the NDAA and set up a final vote, which will likely be next week. Consideration of amendments to the measure remain stalled due to objections from Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who has blocked unanimous consent agreements because the Senate hasn't taken up his own amendment.
NIH Invites Input on National Institute of Mental Health Director Selection
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is in the process of selecting the next Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). On May 20, NIMH issued a request for information (RFI), "NIMH Request for Brief Perspectives on the State of Mental Illness Research" (NOT-MH-16-015), which calls for input from the extramural scientific community in developing "briefing materials that represent the full diversity of perspectives on mental illness research in preparation for the next NIMH director."
NIMH is soliciting comments on topics such as, but not limited to: basic neuroscience, translational, intervention, clinical, and services research; Research Domain criteria initiative (RDoc), global mental health, diversity and training of the workforce; advocacy and outreach efforts; and translational biomarkers. Electronic comments are due June 30, 2016 and can be submitted here.
Both the House and Senate will reconvene on Monday, June 13. The Senate will consider the FY2017 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill.
Tuesday, June 14
House Energy and Commerce Committee
Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing: Combatting Superbugs: U.S. Public Health Responses to Antibiotic Resistance
10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn
Wednesday, June 15
Committee on Science Space and Technology
Energy Subcommittee Hearing: Innovation in Solar Fuels, Electricity Storage, and Advanced Materials
10:00 a.m., 2318 Rayburn