James M. Turner, Acting Director, NIST appeared before the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation hearing held on March 11th to comment on the NIST FY 2009 budget request. He emphasized that NIST has an immediate need to invest in strategic and rapidly advancing technologies with the $42.8 million that is included in the budget request. According to Dr. Turner, inaccurate bioscience measurements sometimes make it hard to tell when treatments are healing or causing harm, and this can often increase costs and lower the quality of healthcare.
Dr. Turner also reported that a funding request for $10 million was submitted for further NIST research that is needed to improve measurements and standards in the biosciences field. He further said that the biosciences field funding for FY 2009 would focus on three intersecting research areas:
- Make biological data more reliable by establishing methods, standards, and benchmark data for the fundamental measurements needed in mass spectrometry and molecular imaging
- Devise new methods for simultaneously measuring hundreds to thousands of molecules at a time by developing and validating new technologies in areas such as micro-fluidics and live cell imaging
- Help laboratories to compare and combine their measurements and computer models with one another by developing standards for the exchange of biological data and information
He also commented on the budget funding for the NIST optical communications and computing program. The budget for FY 2009 requests $5.8 million to address the need for a new generation of transmission and networking technologies to produce innovation in many current and future industries including telemedicine, entertainment, and security.
Dr. Turner continued to say that NIST works closely with industry to expand research and development. The R&D goal is to produce new measurement capabilities to accommodate higher-speed and next generation communications networks, develop measurements to diagnose and locate transmission problems on data networks, develop new techniques to analyze computer circuits that transmit light instead of electricity, and develop ways to manipulate light within computer chips to interconnect very small electronic and optical devices.