A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: A step in the right direction

Dear Research Advocate:

Research!America Chairman, former Congressman John Edward Porter, and Board Member Kweise Mfume, also a former Member of Congress, published a timely op-ed in The Hill on taking action now — not next year or five years down the road — to accelerate medical progress. A misconception about federally funded medical research is that its benefits won’t surface for decades. In fact, research is a relay race, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports several legs of it. At this very moment, some NIH-funded researchers are engaging in initial exploration, while others are further along, readying discoveries for the private sector to take and run with. And the Food and Drug Administration is working with companies to get to the finish line. The return on FY 15 appropriations begins in the very same year. As Congressmen Porter and Mfume make clear, medical progress should not just be a long-term goal. It must be a short-term imperative. In addition, a CNN op-ed, written by Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation President Dr. Claire Pomeroy and neuropsychiatrist and Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, drives home the point that not providing robust funding for medical research in FY15 is downright dangerous.

That’s one of many reasons the FY 15 appropriations process is so important. The Senate Labor-H Appropriations subcommittee marked up its FY15 spending bill this week. Click here to read my statement on the bill. The bottom line is that NIH is slated to receive a $605 million increase should this measure become law. That would fully erase the impact of the 2013 sequestration on the Institutes’ budget baseline, but it would still leave NIH with funding lower than it received in FY 2010. NIH funding should keep pace with scientific opportunity, and that means assigning it a higher priority. We know it won’t be easy to find $32 billion for NIH. But it is the right thing to do.

On the House side, there are rumors that a bill will be offered and a mark-up held, but skepticism about those possibilities abounds. In the meantime, consideration of the House Agriculture appropriations bill, which funds the FDA, is still in progress. There is a veto threat, and how FDA will ultimately fare is uncertain.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve shared fact sheets about John Hudson Dilgen, a child with a debilitating and potentially deadly disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa, and Carrie Scott, a woman living with a severe form of Multiple Sclerosis. Medical research is about John and Carrie…and Michael. This week’s fact sheet introduces you to a young man who endured a cancer nightmare. Research saved him. We are thankful to Michael, and to the many key staffers from both sides of the aisle who have contacted us about this fact sheet series. We know our members have played a key role in the positive response by sharing the fact sheets with your representatives in the House and the Senate. And if you have a personal story you’d like us to share, by all means contact us!

The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), in conjunction with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Arts Program, has launched the Life: Magnified exhibit, which uses “bioart,” images of blood, eye, skin, liver, brain and muscle cells, to convey the beauty and mystery of scientific discovery. It’s on display at the Washington Dulles International Airport Gateway Gallery until November. You can view some of the images here.

This Father’s Day, take a minute to honor the dads in your life by asking your candidates about the importance of men’s health research. According to the American Cancer Society, American men have a 20% chance of developing prostate or colorectal cancer. Yet did you know that in 2013, Americans spent 23 times more on Father’s Day gifts than on federally funded research in prostate and colorectal cancers? This infographic helps explain the problem. Please feel free to share it broadly on your social media channels. We need champions in Congress who will fight for the research that dads — and all Americans — need.

This week’s letter was authored by Mike Coburn, Chief Operating Officer at Research!America.


Mike Coburn

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