The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set its sights on a $4.03bn slice of the government’s 2011 fiscal budget to transform food safety, protect patients and invest in revolutionary life sciences.

The budget request, which is 23% more than the agency’s current $3.28bn budget, reflects key challenges pinpointed by the FDA, namely protecting the public from food and medical health scares as well as harnessing ground-breaking science.

FDA Commissioner Margaret A Hamburg said that resources will strengthen the agency’s ability to act as a strong and smart regulator.

“This budget will help realise the benefits of science that are yielding revolutionary advances in the life and biomedical sciences,” Hamburg said.

The bulk of the proposed budget includes $318.3m to transform food safety, covering better safety standards, bigger laboratories, pilot track and trace technology, a strengthened import safety programme, improved data collection and risk analysis and the establishment of a more responsive integrated national food safety system.

A budget of $100.8m has also been requested for the Protecting Patients Initiative, which will support the safety of drugs, devices and vaccines, as well as the nation’s blood supply.

For advancing science, the FDA has expressed the concern that many key discoveries have not led to real therapies for patients and has requested $25m to identify improved pathways to product development and for approval of promising new technologies to diagnose, treat, cure and prevent disease.

Tobacco control has also been placed on the agenda and the FDA has requested $215m to continue to implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to help educate the public and the youth, as well as for the development of a scientific foundation for regulation.