Program Cuts Expected at Cancer Institute
John Niederhuber, a surgeon who President Bush on Tuesday appointed as National Cancer Institute director, on Wednesday said that he hopes to find new nontoxic cancer medications but added that the agency likely will have to eliminate some programs because of budgetary issues, the New York Times reports. The NIH budget doubled between 1998 and 2003, but the agency budget has become flat in recent years.
Niederhuber said that he will use a collaborative process to identify NCI programs "to phase out." However, Niederhuber said that he hopes to invest more in high-technology machines to find new cancer medications and that he plans to support cancer centers at universities nationwide.
Niederhuber said, "The cancer centers have been and continue to be the crown jewels of the NCI's programs." In addition, Niederhuber said that current limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research might require revision in the future. He said, "I think the research questions that we have before us are quite doable under the current constraints. However, I anticipate that these constraints could be limiting as our knowledge increases."
The appointment of Niederhuber -- who replaces Andrew von Eschenbach, whom Bush has nominated as FDA administrator -- does not require Senate confirmation (Harris, New York Times, 8/17).