Nuclear medicine left out of energy budget

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By Roger Snodgrass

Among the measures at risk in this years appropriation process is a $20 million item for nuclear medicine research in the Department of Energy.

About $2.5 million of that amount would normally flow down into New Mexico, primarily at the national laboratories, said Robert Atcher, president-elect of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM).

Atcher, who lives in White Rock and is a program manager in the Bioscience Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said he was in Washington on behalf of the society this week in an effort to salvage the program.

Funding for basic nuclear medicine research in DOEs Office of Science was dropped from the FY06 budget, because of what Atcher described as an arbitrary decision by an examiner in the Office of Management and Budget, and has been excluded from the budget by the vagaries of the appropriation process since then.

An appeal managed to get the item restored in the House for the 2006 fiscal year appropriation, but when the Senate did not go along with that item and replaced it with an equivalent of earmarks, Atcher said. We didnt get the money back.

For the current fiscal year, he continued, The Senate put it back but the House didnt have it in the bill, and the exclusion continued because of the continuing resolution that funded DOE for FY07.

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