For millions of patients and their families, medical research is the beginning of hope.
And today, its promise has never been greater for Americans suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, depression, and Parkinson's. To fully realize this hope, we must sustain federal support for medical research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Support for NIH today will pay a lifetime of dividends in better health and quality of life for all Americans.
Why NIH Funding Is Important
As the largest federal funding agency for medical research, the NIH invested more than $30 billion in fiscal year 2012. More than 80% of the NIH's budget goes to more than 300,000 research personnel at over 2,500 universities and research institutions. Nearly 55% of this funding goes to medical schools and teaching hospitals across the country, institutions committed to pioneering tomorrow’s cures and medical advances and bringing them to patients.
Between 2003 and 2015, NIH funding fell by 22% due to budget cuts, sequestration, and inflation. This resulted in fewer grants, which, in turn, likely resulted in fewer breakthroughs that could have fulfilled the promise of hope for millions of Americans dealing with life-threatening and chronic disease.
While increased federal budget deficits in recent years have created tremendous pressure on lawmakers to limit spending, Congress has shown ongoing support for NIH and the value of medical research. Since 2016, NIH appropriations have been increased and additional funding has been provide for medical research, such as through the 21st Century Cures Act. NIH funding is now equal to, in real dollars, 2003 funding levels.
While reducing the deficit is vital, lawmakers have recognized that cutting funding to medical research will have dire consequences for the quality of healthcare in the future and the development of life-saving medical advances.
In order to meet the health challenges of an aging and increasingly diverse population, continue to foster the types of innovation that will drive our regional economy, and remain a vibrant force in the global economy, America needs to continue this investment in medical research, and provide sustained, predictable funding for NIH. Cuts to NIH funding will delay medical progress and deny hope to millions of Americans.
- The Hidden and Vital Costs of Doing Science (AAMCNews)