The Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) today called on Congress to continue its historic, strong support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), stating it is a proven pathway to better treatment options for American families, strengthens the U.S. economy, and maintains American leadership in the competitive global research enterprise.
“Congress has a bipartisan history of support for the NIH, understanding that investments in science and discovery are the foundations that lead to better health care and a stronger economy,” said Keith Yamamoto, chair of the CLS, continued,“The CLS urges Congress to fund the NIH at a level of at least $32 billion.”
President Abama’s proposed 2013 NIH budget recommends $30.7 billion, a flat funding level that in fact loses ground for vital research when inflation is included. Given several recent years of flat or near-flat funding, biomedical research inflation has eaten away at the buying power of the NIH budget, leaving it20% lower than it was a decade ago. The President’s plan recommends that most NIH institutes receive roughly the same amount of funding as in FY12, except for select new investments in translational science.
Additionally, Yamamoto noted,“It is essential that the NIH maintains a balanced research portfolio. A sustained, robust investment in fundamental discovery research is the only way to uncover the mechanisms of disease, and knowing those mechanisms will lead to treatments and cures.”Even as patients, scientists, and drug developers seek new ways to ameliorate disease,” Yamamoto noted that “much of what we need to know remains to be discovered.”
The scientific insights and breakthroughs that result in improved global health can most often be traced to research proposals initiated by individual investigators eager to ask and answer important and challenging scientific questions—including those that carry a high risk for failure.“That part of the budget absolutely demands public support, as the private sector will not take on those risks.” Yamamoto continued,“The best biomedical ideas, the heart of innovation, reside in the community of NIH-supported investigators at our universities and medical schools.”
CLS Director Lynn Marquis added,“The crucial research and discovery engine driven by NIH also supports nearly a half million high-paying jobs in the United States. These high-paying jobs are found in every state across the nation in universities, medical schools, hospitals, research institutes, small businesses, and at companies that produce the equipment, technology, and supplies used in research. If a constrained federal budget hinders medical innovation, jobs will be lost, cures won’t be forthcoming, and our standing as the world leader in biomedical research will be compromised.”
Yamamoto concluded,“Now is the time to foster the growth of the nation’s biomedical enterprise. Biomedical research will lower the cost of health care, bring life-saving treatments to patients who cannot afford to wait, and reinvigorate the economy.”
The Coalition for the Life Sciences (coalitionforlifesciences.org) 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. The issues addressed by the CLS include science education, professional training, and the funding, management, and oversight of scientific work, especially by the federal government.