Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) announced that they have sent a letter to the budget negotiators who were tasked with coming up with a compromise following the federal government shutdown, pushing for robust funding for medical research. The Casey-Burr led letter was joined by 33 Senators and cited the role that funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) plays in making lifesaving medical discoveries and increasing economic activity across the country. Congressional budget negotiations are slated to come to an agreement by mid-December. Without a resolution, NIH funds are due to receive another significant cut in January due to the sequester. During the first round of sequester cuts NIH funds were cut by $1.55 billion, resulting in approximately 640 fewer research projects being awarded. The following Senators joined the letter: Begich, Blumenthal, Boxer, Brown, Burr, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Coburn, Collins, Donnelly, Feinstein, Franken, Gillibrand, Hagan, Heinrich, Heitkamp, Hirono, Tim Johnson, Kirk, Klobuchar, Landrieu, Levin, Manchin, Markey, Menendez, Moran, Murphy, Pryor, Reed, Rockefeller, Schatz, Schumer, Shaheen, Warren
“Medical research has changed the lives of patients and families all while driving economic growth,” Senator Casey said. “Investing in NIH will work to ensure that the next major medical breakthrough is discovered in our country and not somewhere else. This letter shows there is a clear bipartisan consensus to invest in medical research that has the potential to save lives and create jobs.”
Senator Burr: “The medical research supported by the NIH has played a vital role in advancing innovative treatments and therapies that have enhanced and saved countless lives. Investing in medical research not only makes certain that patients and health care providers will continue to have access to lifesaving treatments, but also ensures that innovation in the field of biomedical research will help the U.S. remain globally competitive and continue to drive economic growth.”
The full text of Casey and Burr’s letter can be seen below:
The Honorable Patty Murray
Senate Committee on Budget
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Senate Committee on Budget
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.