NIH gets major funding boost

The National Institutes of Health is getting its biggest funding boost in more than a decade as part of a spending bill lawmakers released in the wee hours Wednesday morning.

Under the spending bill to keep federal agencies running through Sept. 30, the NIH will get a $2 billion funding increase. Included in that sum are $200 million for the precision medicine initiative President Obama announced earlier this year, $303 million for efforts to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria and an extra $350 million for research on Alzheimer's disease.

The spending increase also includes funding directed toward a project to map the human brain called the BRAIN Initiative and extra funding for programs aimed at reducing opioid use. In total, the spending plan boosts NIH's funding for this fiscal year to $32 billion.

NIH, which funds billions of dollars in scientific research in its own laboratories and around the country, had suffered under relatively stagnant budgets since its peak level of funding in 2003. Director Francis Collins has said as a result, the agency has lost 22 percent of its purchasing power since then.