New NIH 5-Year Strategic Plan Includes Three ASN Recommendations

The new National Institutes of Health (NIH) strategic plan (Figure 1) released in December 2015 includes three ASN recommendations that will guide the agency’s research agenda over the next five years. During summer 2015, 450 stakeholders in the research community responded to NIH’s request for feedback and input.

Figure 1. 2016–2020 NIH strategic plan

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ASN called on NIH to consider disease burden when setting research funding priorities. Currently, NIH investments in kidney research ($585 million) are less than 1% of total Medicare costs for patients with kidney diseases ($80 billion). In fact, costs of care for patients with kidney failure alone—the only health condition that Medicare automatically provides coverage for regardless of age or disability—are more than NIH’s entire budget ($35 billion vs. $30 billion annually).

Despite the medical and economic burden of kidney diseases, NIH invests less per patient in kidney research than many other diseases (Table 1). ASN also urged NIH to prioritize efforts to both enhance workforce diversity and reduce administrative burden on investigators and research institutions.

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“Scientific and technological breakthroughs that have arisen from NIH-supported research account for many of the gains that the United States has seen in health and longevity,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. “But much remains to be done. This strategic plan will guide our efforts to turn scientific discoveries into better health, while upholding our responsibility to be wise stewards of the resources provided by the American people.”