Cantwell Joins 34 Senators Calling for Protection of Critical Medical Research Support
NIH research supports more than 8,000 jobs at the University of Washington alone
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged the members of a budget conference committee to act to protect against sequester cuts that would negatively impact the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the research that NIH supports. During the first round of the sequester, NIH funds were cut by $1.55 billion, resulting in approximately 640 fewer research projects being awarded.
Cantwell and 34 other senators sent a letter to the conference committee highlighting the important role NIH plays in supporting research resulting in lifesaving medical discoveries and boosting economic activity across the country. The letter was led by U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC).
NIH research supports more than 8,000 jobs at the University of Washington alone. NIH-funded research projects have supported ground-breaking research into topics such as the genetics of cancer, and produced treatment options for hundreds of conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and alcohol abuse.
“Improve the lives of Americans, and offer an economic return for our Nation,” the senators wrote in the letter sent today. “We urge you to consider the tremendous benefits of a sustained investment in the NIH, and ask you to remember our Nation’s role as a world leader in biomedical research and the impact this research has on patients as the conference committee begins its work. Investing in research today will yield cures and therapies for patients tomorrow.”
The senators highlighted the important work done by the NIH and the need to preserve investments in its research. Current sequester cuts not only affect current research projects, but also discourage researchers from beginning projects in the United States under the threat of funding cuts, leading talented researchers abroad. About 70 percent of NIH’s budget goes towards grants to scientists working on a variety of medical challenges.
The letter also noted that the NIH supports research in all 50 states through competitive grants and that this research has helped increase the average lifespan of Americans by almost 30 years over the last century. The NIH also estimates that for every dollar invested in the institute, $2.21 in local economic growth is generated.
Cantwell was joined on the letter by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Burr (R-NC), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Carl Levin (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
The full text of the letter follows.
Dear Chairman Murray and Ranking Member Sessions:
As you begin the budget conference with your House counterparts, we ask that you maintain a strong commitment to funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH plays an important role in advancing our understanding of human health, supporting innovation, and investing in the field of biomedical research. It is vitally important to ensure that our Nation remains at the forefront of medical research by continuing to support the NIH’s work. As evidenced by the bipartisan letter to the Committee on Appropriations that we authored earlier this year, which was signed by more than half of our colleagues, there is broad support for medical research, and particularly for the NIH, in the Senate.
The NIH offers our best hope for treating or curing debilitating diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so many other illnesses that American families battle every day. The NIH supports research in all fifty states, through nearly 50,000 competitive grants that support hundreds of thousands of researchers across the Nation. NIH-funded research has contributed to an increase in lifespan over the last century of nearly 30 years and according to the NIH, has added an estimated $3.2 trillion annually to the U.S. economy since 1970. Cancer deaths are falling about one percent each year, with each percentage point decline saving the U.S. approximately $500 billion a year. According to the NIH, it is estimated that each dollar invested in the NIH generates $2.21 in local economic growth.
Our investment in the NIH has yielded an unprecedented number of scientific advances that have improved health outcomes and contributed significantly to the Nation’s economic growth. Unfortunately, America is losing ground as the world leader in research and development and researchers are struggling to secure funding. As NIH grants get more competitive, researchers can easily spend half their careers working before receiving a grant, resulting in promising, talented young researchers being discouraged from the field of biomedical research and some investigators deciding to abandon scientific research altogether or to conduct their research outside the United States.
If we are to improve the health of Americans and the quality of their lives, we must continue to invest in areas like biomedical research that have the potential to save money in the future, improve the lives of Americans, and offer an economic return for our Nation. We urge you to consider the tremendous benefits of a sustained investment in the NIH, and ask you to remember our Nation’s role as a world leader in biomedical research and the impact this research has on patients as the conference committee begins its work. Investing in research today will yield cures and therapies for patients tomorrow.
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