On April 24th, representatives from members of the Coalition for Health Funding gathered on Capitol Hill to visit with Members of Congress. As a member of CHF, Research!America participated in these informational visits with offices of freshman Congressmen and Senators. The theme of the day was “health is everywhere,” and advocates sought to communicate the important role of health and research in the lives of Americans and in our economy.
During the meetings, advocates spoke about how adequate funding for agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and others can help address soaring health care costs including Medicaid and Medicare expenses. Continue reading →
President Barack Obama unveiled the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative on Tuesday. Described in a White House press release as one of the administration’s “Grand Challenges,” the goal of the initiative is to bring private and public sector research together to accelerate the development and application of technology and research into the function of complex neural networks. President Obama laid the ground work for today’s announcement during his State of the Union address in January, calling for an increased investment in research to achieve “a level of research and development not seen since the height of the space race.” Continue reading →
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not hear a case that challenged the legality of federally funded human embryonic stem cell research.
The case, Sherley v. Sebelius, was brought by two researchers of induced pluripotent stem cells, James Sherley, MD, PhD, and Theresa Deisher, PhD in 2009. They argued that guidelines concerning government funding of hESC, adopted by the Obama administration, were in violation of the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment. The amendment forbids the Department of Health and Human Services — including the National Institutes of Health — from using appropriated funds to either create embryos for research purposes or conduct research in which embryos are destroyed.
After an initial ruling in 2010 in favor of the plaintiffs, an injunction was issued that allowed research to continue. Eventually, both the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found in favor of the government. The plaintiffs appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case and offered no further comment in Monday’s order.
Stem cell research advocates were pleased with the ruling.
“This is a major victory for scientifically and ethically responsible innovative research,” Bernard Siegel, spokesperson for the Stem Cell Action Coalition and executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute, said in a statement. “With the cloud of this case lifted, researchers can now rest assured that the challenge to the NIH’s 2009 guidelines for funding for embryonic stem cell research is over. Patients and their advocates can now rejoice that this potentially life-saving research can proceed at the federal level.”
The ruling is “a victory for scientists, patients and the entire biomedical research community. Science can now continue to move forward, knowing the threat to promising research and funding has been eliminated,” said Amy Comstock Rick, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, according to ScienceInsider.
In a statement, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, reaffirmed the agency’s dedication to ESCR.
“I am very pleased with today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline to review the Sherley v. Sebelius U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. This decision allows the ruling to stand, and enables NIH to continue conducting and funding stem cell research, following the strict ethical guidelines put in place in 2009. Patients and their families who look forward to new therapies to replace cells lost by disease or injury, or who may benefit from new drugs identified by screening using stem cells, should be reassured that NIH will continue supporting this promising research.”
NIH Director, Research!America Board Member to Discuss Declining Funding for Science on BioCentury This Week
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, and a Research!America Board member, former Congressman Mike Castle, will appear on BioCenturyTV during the next two weeks to discuss declines in federally funded research.
“BioCentury This Week” airs at 8:30 a.m. Sundays on WUSA-9 in the Washington, DC, area. In other areas, the program is available on the show’s website at www.biocenturytv.com.
The September 23 show will feature Collins, who will discuss sequestration, NIH grant rates, ways to reduce the costs of clinical trials and the NIH’s public-private partnerships.
The September 30 show will feature Castle; Daniel Ford, MD, MPH, vice dean for clinical investigation at Johns Hopkins University, a Research!America member; and Douglas Williams, PhD, executive vice president for research and development at Biogen Idec. They will offer their solutions for science in the age of austerity, according to the show.