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Senate Bill Seeks to Accelerate Biomedical Research by Prioritizing Funding

July 24, 2014

Senate Bill Seeks to Accelerate Biomedical Research by Prioritizing Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Legislation introduced today in the U.S. Senate by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) seeks to accelerate biomedical research by laying out a steady plan for restoring investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH).   Harkin is the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (the LHHS subcommittee). 

“Support for biomedical research should not be a partisan issue,” said Harkin. “This is life-saving medical research that is giving hope to tens of millions of Americans suffering from chronic disease or living with a disability.  I believe passionately that Congress has the responsibility to give researchers around the country the resources they need to fulfill their mission of saving lives, while upholding America’s traditional global leadership role in this area.”

Though Harkin successfully worked to double the budget for the NIH over a five-year period from Fiscal Year 1998 to 2003, austere budget caps have resulted in over 20 percent erosion in the purchasing power of dollars for biomedical research.  If current trends continue, the government of China will outpace the U.S. investment in biomedical research over the coming decade, diverting private investment, jobs, and subsequent economic growth.  The Accelerate Biomedical Research Act would reverse this trend by instituting a budget cap adjustment to prioritize NIH over the remaining fiscal years of the Budget Control Act.  The budget cap adjustment is sufficient to allow the Appropriations Committees to restore the purchasing power the NIH would have had if funding had kept pace with inflation since 2003, the last year of the doubling.  The bill includes language that will require the Appropriations Committee to maintain the current funding of $29.9 billion for NIH, above which appropriations will rise up to $46.2 billion at the end of the seven year period from Fiscal Year 2015 to 2021.  The additional funding provides an initial bump of ten percent increases in the first two years to quickly mitigate the lingering effects of sequester, followed by a five percent increase each year thereafter.

The Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Association of American Cancer Institutes, Association of American Universities, Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, Parkinson’s Action Network, Research!America, and United for Medical Research are among the national groups supporting the measure.  Research institutions supporting the bill include the Associated Medical Schools of New York, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, University of Iowa Health Care, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Yale University.

In Fiscal Year 2012, the NIH extramural program supported around 50,000 competitive research grants and 300,000 scientists and research personnel at more than 2,500 universities, medical schools, and other research institutions across 50 States.