This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.,
is home to the National Institutes of Health. N.I.H. calls itself "the
Nation's Medical Research Agency." But it supports research worldwide with
its budget of almost twenty-nine billion dollars.
Federal agencies will get new leaders when
Barack Obama is president. But the head of N.I.H. resigned early. Elias
Zerhouni left at the end of October after six and a half years as director.
now, the acting director is Raynard Kington. Doctor Kington has been deputy
director for the past five years. Directors are appointed by the president and confirmed
by the Senate.
The National Institutes of Health had
strong financial support during Doctor Zerhouni's first two years. But Congress
did not increase the budget very much after that.
Reece is dean of the University of Maryland medical school. He says that since
two thousand four, N.I.H.'s budget has been reduced by more than thirteen
percent after considering inflation.
Reece, writing in the Baltimore Sun, urged President-elect Obama to increase the
funding. It would not only improve the nation's health, he says, but also help
restart the economy. Medical centers funded by N.I.H., he said, support more
than three million full-time jobs.
now, the Obama team is looking at executive orders signed by President Bush.
Those that conflict with Mister Obama's positions could be canceled or amended.
One area being looked at is stem cell research. Stem cells can grow into any
kind of tissue in the body.
President Bush has restricted federal
support for research on embryonic stem cells because of his beliefs about
protecting life. Others say the embryos would be destroyed anyway because they
are unused embryos from fertility clinics.
Obama says the research may lead to improved treatments for Alzheimer's disease
and other conditions. He says other treatments being studied are not
substitutes for research on embryonic stem cells. He has called for expanded
Doctor Zerhouni told Congress last year that he thought
the limits were interfering with research.
appointees have to resign when the administration changes in January. But Elias
Zerhouni says he left before the election so the next president would have to start
thinking early about N.I.H. He says he wants to work on writing projects and
explore other professional opportunities.
And that's the VOA Special English
Health Report. I'm Steve Ember.