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Background on Today's Health Announcement

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the world's preeminent and largest medical research organization. NIH supports biomedical research through a competitive grant system at over 1,700 institutions across the country; through more than 50,000 grantee researchers working in universities, medical centers, hospitals, and research institutions in every State and territory in the Nation; and through 18,000 NIH employees on its 300-acre Bethesda campus, including 2000 scientists working in labs and clinics. NIH research has led to many research breakthroughs, including lifesaving vaccines, new cancer therapies, human genome sequencing and effective drugs for the treatment of mental illness.

For FY 2003, President Bush's budget requests $27.3 billion -- an increase of $3.9 billion (17%) over FY 2002, completing the President's commitment to double the NIH's FY 1998 appropriation level in five years. The NIH Director will guide the NIH as it uses these funds to address converging arenas of scientific opportunity and public health, such as bioterrorism, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and the health of minority populations.

Surgeon General

The Surgeon General serves as spokesperson to the nation on matters of public health and medicine. The Surgeon General serves as special advisor to the President and Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Congress and the general public on hazards to health, disease prevention and health promotion, based on the best available scientific evidence. To date, the Surgeon General has produced over 60 reports to the Nation on various critical health topics.

The Surgeon General administers the Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps. The 5,600 health care professionals in the Corps serve in HHS health agencies and other federal Departments, as well as in medically underserved areas of the Nation. All Corps members are on call for emergency duty as needed, and a special Readiness Force within the Corps is prepared at all times for immediate deployment. Recently, members of the Readiness Force were deployed in New York and Washington, D.C., following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and the anthrax attacks.