Tag Archives: Winston-Salem Journal

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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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Inaugural topics?

Dear Research Advocate,

President Obama delivered a comprehensive plan for stemming gun violence yesterday, identifying, among other components, a renewed role for federally funded research. (Prohibitions enacted by Congress in the mid-1990s and expanded in 2011 have largely prevented federal agencies from funding firearms-related research.) An executive memorandum signed by the president on Wednesday directs CDC to conduct research on the causes of gun violence and ways to prevent it. Restrictions on research that informs federal policy are counterproductive to sound governance. With the benefit of research findings, policy makers can identify the most effective strategies for preventing firearm violence. Research!America applauds the president and joins all those who oppose restrictions on research for health. A national focus on ending gun violence will surely be a topic addressed by the president in his second inaugural address on Monday.

On the budget front, which the president will almost certainly address in his remarks, the drawn-out, kick-the-can-down-the-road approach to avoiding fiscal chaos is already taking a deep toll on our nation’s core government functions, including medical research. This message was delivered loud and clear this week in Forbes, in a piece called “Congress is Killing Medical Research” by Dr. Steven Salzberg of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Share this terrific editorial with your networks, and make sure your elected officials have read it too! You can use our web tool to find contact information for your federal representatives. The damage of the current fiscal situation was also called out in an article by Richard Craver in the Winston-Salem Journal, describing how Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is being hit with a “triple whammy.”

In an interview with Politico, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, said sequestration would deal a “profound and devastating blow” to medical research. In 2011, the NIH budget was reduced by 1.5% and has continued to lose ground to inflation, which has eroded the agency’s ability to support lifesaving research by 20% since 2003. Dr. Collins also highlighted shrinking grant success rates; now just 1 in 6 applications are funded. This has a terribly demoralizing effect on young researchers and patients alike. Email your representatives now, and urge them to end sequestration once and for all.

Will the president use the platform of the inaugural address to underscore the importance of health and medical research? From preventing gun violence to ending the costly scourge of Alzheimer’s and so many other ailments, there are profoundly important reasons to assign a top priority to solutions research can and will identify, given adequate support. Advocates for research look to the president to take a leadership role; so does the American public, 72% of whom want biomedical and health research to be a priority for the president and for the new Congress in its first 100 days.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley