Casey, Burr Urge Support for NIH Medical Research

WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) sent a bipartisan letter with the support of 37 Senators urging support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for medical research in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget.

“We believe that it is essential to continue support for medical research because of the potential health benefits for all Americans and the importance of ensuring that our Nation remains at the forefront of medical research,” the letter states.

“The NIH is our country’s premier institution for medical research.  It 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.  It is also our best hope for containing the increasing health care costs associated with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation.  A large portion of the projected increase in health care expenditures in the coming decades can be anticipated due to demographic changes and the escalating costs associated with many medical conditions and chronic diseases.”

The NIH is a critical source of funding for research conducted by scientists at medical schools and other research institutions. It is also a driver of economic growth and jobs.

Pennsylvania ranks among the top states in the Nation as a recipient of NIH funding due to the presence of several top-tier research universities in the state. NIH grants to institutions in Pennsylvania helped support more than 28,000 jobs in 2010, according to a recent report from United for Medical Research.

The letter was sent to the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Related Agencies.

A copy of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Inouye, Vice Chairman Cochran, Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Shelby:

As you and your colleagues prepare the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 appropriations bills, we respectfully request that you maintain a strong commitment to funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education bill.  We believe that it is essential to continue support for medical research because of the potential health benefits for all Americans and the importance of ensuring that our Nation remains at the forefront of medical research.

The NIH is our country’s premier institution for medical research.  It 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.  It is also our best hope for containing the increasing health care costs associated with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation.  A large portion of the projected increase in health care expenditures in the coming decades can be anticipated due to demographic changes and the escalating costs associated with many medical conditions and chronic diseases.

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.  NIH grants fund basic medical and translational research that turns bench-side findings into bedside interventions for patients.  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 biomedical research and some young investigators deciding to abandon scientific research altogether or to conduct their research outside the United States.

We all recognize the difficult choices that need to be made as we seek to reduce the deficit.  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 sustaining 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 your Committee makes FY 2012 funding decisions.  Investing in research today will yield cures and therapies for patients tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)

###