Spanberger Fighting to Strengthen Federal Investment in Cancer and Rare Disease Research

October 22, 2019 by Dan McCue
Youngmi Ji, Ph.D., research fellow, conducts research in the NIAMS Cartilage Biology and Orthopaedics Branch. The lab's research focuses on understanding specific orthopaedic pathologies to better facilitate clinical translation of lab results to medical therapies. (Photo courtesy pf the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., wants $10 billion allocated to the National Institutes of Health over the next 10 years as a catalyst for medical cures and scientific breakthroughs.

The Biomedical Innovation Expansion Act introduced last week by Spanberger and Reps. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and Mike Levin, D-Calif., would support the NIH’s ongoing initiatives to combat cancer, prevent antibiotic resistance, and discover cures for rare diseases.

“Our country’s medical researchers have been recognized around the world for their cutting-edge discoveries, and this proud legacy of innovation has solidified our reputation as a global leader in the fight against rare diseases and chronic illnesses,” Rep. Spanberger said.

“The dedicated staff at the NIH deserve strong support for their world-class research, and this bill reaffirms the idea that the medical challenges of tomorrow can be addressed through the lifesaving research of today,” she said.

Spanberger said the funding would help the next generation of scientists understand new ways to prevent antibiotic resistance, treat rare diseases, and eventually develop a cure for cancer.

“And I’ll keep looking to support ways to develop new treatments, encourage innovation, and allow Central Virginia patients to live longer and healthier lives,” she said.

Rep. Sherrill noted that New Jersey has been a world leader in biomedical research innovation for decades.

“I’ve seen the exciting and breakthrough research happening right here in North Jersey that will help us save lives, improve health, and offer hope to people affected by rare diseases,” she said. “This bill continues the momentum of support for biomedical research funding to ensure America remains a leader in research innovation and that we support jobs in New Jersey.”

Levin agreed.

“The National Institutes of Health support critically important research that improves the quality of life for people across the country, and we must make robust investments in that work,” he said. “The Southern California communities I represent are home to world renowned research institutions, and the Biomedical Innovation Act will help ensure that they have the funding they desperately need.”

The legislation would also provide steady, predictable resources through the NIH Innovation Fund, which was created through the bipartisan “21st Century Cures Act” in 2016, and it would maintain support for all current NIH Innovation Fund activities through 2030.

Of the $10 billion total, roughly $3 billion will support the Precision Medicine Initiative, which includes the ambitious All of Us Research Program aimed at building a diverse database to inform thousands of studies on a variety of health conditions as an important way to accelerate health research.

Over $2.9 billion will go to the Brain Research Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative and support its efforts to gain insight into how the nervous system functions in health and disease.

More than $1.6 billion will be dedicated to combating antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance, which the World Health Organization warns is one of the top ten threats to global health, and $1.5 billion will go to the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot to continue to accelerate cancer research for more patients in need;

About $758 million will support research on the several thousands of rare diseases without a treatment, and $220 million will go to the Regenerative Medicine Innovation Project carried out in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration to advance the development of safe and effective regenerative medicine innovations using adult stem cells.

This is Spanberger’s second major effort to address life-threatening diseases and to support national efforts to combat cancer.

In June, the House passed her amendment to strengthen federal support for colorectal cancer screening and prevention as part of a bipartisan funding package.

The legislation also included a Spanberger-backed provision to increase NIH funding by $2 billion and to secure an additional $2.4 billion for Alzheimer’s Disease research.

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