There is a need for stronger investment in medical research in the new year to improve the health of Americans, maintain the nation's global competitiveness and boost the economy, says Research!America Chair John Edward Porter.
"As we wrap-up a turbulent year for government funded programs, we're pleased that bipartisan support for medical research remains a hallmark of Congress' commitment to science and innovation," said Porter. "Increased funding for federal health agencies will help scientists continue to fight deadly and disabling diseases, enhance preventive care and enable creative solutions to help speed safe and effective medical innovations to patients. But there is still more work ahead as we face potential cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies in the near future. "
The NIH received a $299 million increase and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a $38 million increase in the FY 2012 appropriations bill while many other agencies and programs were flat-funded or cut. "The NIH and CDC are lynchpin agencies that support advances in life-saving medical treatments and research to preserve our nation's critical public health infrastructure," Porter added.
The Conference Agreement approved the creation of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) which promotes collaborative efforts by the public and private sector to quickly and efficiently maximize the potential inherent in scientific discoveries.
The Food and Drug Administration and the National Science Foundation also received modest increases, ensuring the health and safety of Americans and the progress of science. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which plays a pivotal role in improving health care quality and delivery, did not fare as well, receiving a cut of about $3million.
Health research faces even more budgetary challenges in 2012 and beyond. "With an eight percent overall budget cut set for 2013, there is immense pressure on Congress to cut critical funding to agencies suchs as NIH, and we must continue to demonstrate the value of this funding for the health and economic wellbeing of our nation," Porter said. "It is mission-critical that medical research not be subjected to pervasive cuts that could damage our country's reputation as a leader in health research and delivery. "
According to a public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America, 77 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is losing its global competitive edge in science, technology and innovation and 54 percent believe the U.S. doesn't have the best health care system in the world.
"Americans see health research as part of the solution in improving the economy and Americans' quality of life, and our elected officials and candidates for office need to recognize and value it in the same regard," Porter noted. "We are committed to working with Congress in the new year to ensure the stature of U.S. health research and the success of this and future generations of scientists."