Spotlight

The Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) calls on Congress to reject President Trump’s FY18 budget proposal released today. The budget request proposes draconian and careless cuts that will devastate the scientific enterprise by slashing...

The Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) would like to thank Congress for its commitment to the federally funded life science enterprise.

National Institutes of Health

The CLS is pleased to see that Congress supported a $2...

Legislative Alerts

Medical Research Advocates Urge Action to Avert Harm to Nation’s Health

For immediate release

Contacts:
David Moore (Ad Hoc Group), 202-828-0559
Lynn Marquis (Coalition for Life Sciences), 301-347-9309
Jennifer Zeitzer (FASEB), 202-320-1422
Anna Briseno (Research!America), 571-482-2710

Washington, D.C., March 1, 2013 – The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, Coalition for Life Sciences (CLS), FASEB, and Research!America, which represent millions of patients, scientists, and health care providers, are deeply concerned about the impact on the nation’s health resulting from across-the-board cuts to medical research funding implemented today under the statutorily-mandated sequestration.

The inability of the Administration and Congress to agree on a responsible alternative to sequestration means that funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be cut by 5.1 percent this year alone.  Since this cut occurs five months into the fiscal year, its impact will be closer to a 9 percent reduction.

Sequestration represents only the latest threat to the viability of this nation’s medical research enterprise.  NIH has lost one-fifth of its purchasing power over the past decade.  The spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act and the sequestration mandated under the same bill will further erode our nation’s ability to support a medical research enterprise that is capable of taking full advantage of existing and emerging scientific opportunities.  Sequestration will diminish the hope that medical research provides to patients with serious diseases, not only in this country but around the world. 

Our country still has the most robust medical research capacity in the world, but that capacity simply cannot weather repeated blows like this one.  We urge you not to jeopardize our competitive edge in medical research and ultimately weaken our nation’s ability to compete in an increasingly innovation-based global marketplace. 

Perhaps one of the greatest concerns is the impact these continued cuts will have on the next generation of scientists, who will see training funds slashed and the possibility of sustaining a career in research diminished.

If we are to address the health challenges of an aging and increasingly diverse population, and remain a vibrant force in the global economy, America needs more investment in medical research, not less. We respectfully urge Congress and the Administration to work together on a solution that preserves the nation's investment in medical research and protects the health of the American people.

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The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research is a coalition of more than 300 patient and voluntary health groups, medical and scientific societies, academic and research organizations, and industry that support enhancing the federal investment in the biomedical, behavioral, and population-based research conducted and supported by the NIH.

The Coalition for the Life Sciences is an alliance of six non-profit professional organizations working together to foster public policies that advance basic biological research and its applications in medicine and other fields.

FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States.

Research!America is a public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations representing 125 million Americans.

Congressman Steve Stivers Becomes the Newest Co-Chair of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus

Released: February 22, 2013
Contact: Lynn Marquis
301-347-9309

The Coalition for the Life Sciences, on behalf of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, is pleased to announce Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) as the newest co-chair of the Caucus.  He joins Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Charlie Dent (R-PA), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) as leaders of the 78-member bipartisan Caucus. 

“It is an honor to serve as a co-chair to the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus,” Stivers said.  “Ohio University, The Ohio State University, and Battelle are important to the communities I represent because they mean biomedical jobs for the people who live there.  Both my district and America depend on research and innovation to move us forward and that is why this is such an important issue.”

Congressman Steve Stivers represents the 15th District in Ohio. He grew up in Ripley, moved to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University and never left, except for deployments with the Ohio Army National Guard.  Central Ohio is home to a vibrant life sciences industry that includes renowned research universities, premier national healthcare providers, and innovative biotech firms.  

Congressman Stivers in his first term in office made an incredible contribution to the research enterprise. In Dec. 2012, as Congress was debating the fiscal cliff, Stivers joined with his democratic colleague Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and led a bipartisan effort to protect the National Institutes of Health in the context of ongoing budget negotiations.  A total of 60 members of Congress signed this letter to the House and Senate leadership, which stated, “As Congress debates the issues surrounding deficit reduction, we urge you to support a thoughtful, balanced approach, taking into account the critical importance of the National Institutes of Health.”

Without question, Congressman Stivers is, and will continue to be, a tremendous voice for biomedical research in Congress and through the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus.

The Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus was established in 1989 to broaden the support and knowledge of basic and clinical biomedical research issues throughout the Congress in a bipartisan manner. The CBRC is a bipartisan, bicameral Caucus and takes no dues from its members.

Congress Is Killing Medical Research

Steve Salzberg
Fighting Pseudoscience

Congress is killing medical research.  The tragedy is that they don’t want to, but they may do it anyway.

NIH Campus

While the ridiculous posturing about the U.S. budget deficit drags on, seemingly without end, biomedical research in the U.S. is crumbling.  Congress’s chronic inability to pass a budget, and especially the delays this year, are deeply damaging the core of our entire biomedical research enterprise: the National Institutes of Health.

Outside the beltway, the current battle over the budget probably looks like the usual blustering drama that Congress has been engaged in for years.  Somehow they always come up with another budget, don’t they?  They’ll tout it as a compromise where no one is very happy, and we move on to the next fight.  Business as usual, right?

Wrong.  There are very real consequences to Congress’s inaction, and they are happening right now.  The “continuing resolution” that Congress passed in the fall, which allowed the government to avoid a shutdown, only runs until March.  It includes a 10% across-the-board budget cut to everything.  That includes most of the critical medical research in the U.S.

Every year, many NIH projects end and many others begin.  (Most only last 3 or 4 years.)  But not this year.  Because of the budget shenanigans, NIH has been forced to cut or delay funding to almost all new projects.  In other words, biomedical research that has already gone through rigorous peer review and been given top priority is on hold.  And just to be clear: these are only the best projects.  80-85% of projects submitted to NIH, many of them excellent, don’t make the cut because NIH just doesn’t have enough funding for them.

While the budget is in limbo, many talented students, postdoctoral fellows, and research scientists who might work on these projects – some of them just beginning their careers in science – will have to find other work.  Some will go to industry, and some may leave science for another field.  Some of them won’t come back.  This is a loss that is hard to measure.

For readers who might think I’m asking for a lot, think again.  The entire NIH budget comes to about $31 billion, which supports research on hundreds of diseases.  The total U.S. budget last year was 3,729 billion (3.7 trillion), so the NIH budget is less than 1% of the total.  A 10% cut from the NIH budget (the so-called “sequester” plan) would save 0.08% of the federal budget.  This matters not a whit in the overall budget debate – but it would be a huge blow to biomedical research, crippling some research programs for years to come.

And for those who want to look at this from an economic perspective , NIH funding is a terrific investment.  A nonpartisan study in 2000 concluded:
“Publicly funded research in general generates high rates of return to the economy, averaging 25 to 40 percent a year.”

The same report provided detailed examples showing about how NIH-funded work saves billions of dollars per year in health care costs.  But keep in mind that most of these benefits don’t appear for many years.  The private sector simply won’t make such long-term investments.

If you are reading this, you either already benefit from medical research, or you will some day.  Even if you are in perfect health, someone close to you probably uses a treatment that was supported by NIH. Virtually every major medical center in the United States depends on this funding.  There are few investments with broader impact, and broader public support, than biomedical research.

Does Congress really want to kill medical research?  I think the answer is very clearly no.  The damage to our biomedical research enterprise is entirely unintentional: it’s collateral damage in the never-ending partisan fights that consume Washington these days.  Those fights are about power and politics, not science and medicine.  Everyone, even the most intransigent Congressperson, wants better treatments for cancer, heart disease, genetic diseases, infections, and the many other illnesses that afflict us.

So I’m asking the leaders of Congress (yes, I’m talking to you, Congressman John Boehner and Senator Harry Reid) to put aside the fighting for a few minutes.  Bring up the NIH budget and pass it.  Don’t cut it by 10% (the “sequester” plan), which would be devastating to biomedical research and would save only 0.08% of the budget.  Don’t bundle it into some omnibus “grand bargain” that everyone knows is neither grand nor a bargain.

If they will simply vote on it, I predict that both houses of Congress will pass the NIH budget with overwhelming majorities, and for a brief moment, the country might even admit that Congress was doing its job.  I’ll pledge right here to write a blog post titled “Congress delivers a victory to the American people.”  So go ahead and do it.  I dare you.

[Disclosure: Like most biomedical scientists in the U.S., I receive funding for my research from NIH.  And also like most biomedical scientists, all of my lab's discoveries are freely shared with the public.]