Sustaining the investment in America’s Health

By John D. McConnell and Edward Abraham

John D. McConnell, MD

Edward Abraham, MD

Every day, physicians and scientists at the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals see the hope that medical research brings to patients treated at their institutions. However, the Appropriations Committee in the U.S. House of Representative has proposed a budget that would result in a devastating cut of nearly 20 percent to NIH funding and the eventual loss of jobs in Winston-Salem and North Carolina.

Today, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Wake Forest School of Medicine and Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, along with our colleagues across the country, demand that this ill-considered proposal that will have long-term effects on the health of Americans and of the U.S. economy be stopped.

For nearly 70 years, research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has given us greater understanding of the causes of disease, increased life expectancy and improved the health and well-being of all Americans. In recent years, NIH-funded advances have led to a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and a test to predict breast cancer recurrence, helped identify genetic markers for mental illness, improved asthma treatments, and nearly eliminated HIV transmissions between mother and child. NIH-funded research also has led to a 60 percent decline in deaths from heart disease and a 70 percent decrease in deaths from stroke. These and other medical advances have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, while new prevention methods and treatments have saved countless more.

Despite these important medical advances, recent federal budget cuts that are part of sequestration slashed the NIH’s budget by $1.7 billion in the first year alone. And now the House’s budget allocation proposes to slash funding by three times that amount, turning back the clock on our nation’s medical research efforts to the 1990s.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals urge Congress and the administration to work together to craft a bipartisan balanced deficit reduction plan that replaces the sequester cuts and preserves the life-saving research funded by the National Institutes of Health. The nation’s patients are depending on it and so are the patients, employees and citizens of Western North Carolina.

Dr. John D. McConnell is CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Edward Abraham is dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine.  Wake Forest University School of Medicine is a member of Research!America.  This post is an excerpt of an editorial article published in the Winston-Salem Journal. Read the full article here

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