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Research Policy and Priorities


Scientists and physicians at medical schools and teaching hospitals pioneer discoveries and innovations, bringing them from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside. The advances that come from this research, much of which is supported in part by federal agencies, lead to new cures, preventive interventions, diagnostics, and treatments for disease that improve the lives of millions of patients.

The AAMC guides its member medical schools and teaching hospitals to prepare a diverse medical research workforce and to champion an environment in which medical discovery can flourish. From foundational science to clinical applications, a strong commitment to discovery benefits people everywhere, and federal policies that promote a thriving national research agenda are key to this goal.

National Institutes of Health

Research supported by the NIH, funded primarily through the annual federal appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the foundation of scientific knowledge and drives medical innovation that improves health. Over half of the life-saving research supported by the NIH takes place at medical schools and teaching hospitals, where scientists, clinicians, fellows, residents, medical and graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers work side by side to improve health and save lives through research from fundamental basic science to clinical and translational research. Ensuring the continuation of advancements in medical research requires sustaining robust, predictable increases in the NIH budget over the long term.

The unique partnership between the NIH and the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals, forged just after World War II, deepens our understanding of the mechanisms of human health and disease and lays the foundation for improved health and quality of life. With critical support for the NIH, researchers at AAMC-member institutions will continue to develop innovative research methods, forge interdisciplinary collaborations, promote effective data-sharing, and address inequities to improve the lives of patients across the country and the world. Through all these activities, the federal commitment to research conducted at academic medical centers not only improves health but also strengthens local and regional economies and the nation’s global competitiveness.


Other Health and Science Agencies

Medical discovery and advancement requires effective research across a continuum from basic science to clinical, health services, and health systems research. Accordingly, other federal agencies, both within and outside HHS, also support vital work at medical schools and teaching hospitals to advance the continuum of research and discovery. These agencies include the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), as well as nongovernment organizations, such as the independent Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). A strong federal investment is critical to support the full spectrum of science and science agencies.


Research Security

Addressing the risk of unethical behaviors that threaten the integrity and security of the research environment is a priority for the AAMC and for our member institutions. Equally important is balancing the threats to security with the need for open science and international collaboration to advance discovery and spur innovation. The AAMC participates in stakeholder discussions with federal research agencies and assists member institutions towards an increased focus on research security and the need to update institutional internal policies and processes while maintaining a focus on the value of a global workforce and international scientific collaborations.


Research Workforce

In addition to teaching the nation’s physicians, academic medical centers train the majority of biomedical scientists in the United States. The ability to maintain a productive, innovative, diverse, and multidisciplinary scientific and medical research workforce depends on the success of academic institutions in training, recruiting, and retaining talented and dedicated scientists, both nationally and internationally, and in researchers obtaining independent, permanent positions. Our future progress in research is dependent on sufficient funding and opportunities to ensure research careers are an attractive and viable option for new generations of physicians and biomedical scientists.


Animals in Research

Animal research has played a key role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century, to the benefit of both human and animal health. It is critical for progress in health and in discovery for scientists to be able to do research in living systems that are genetically similar to humans. The AAMC and its member institutions are committed to the responsibility of ensuring that the use of animals in laboratory research is judicious, responsible, and humane and that the care provided to these animals fully meets accreditation standards and regulatory and legislative requirements.


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Washington Highlights provides academic medicine-related news and  health policy information from Capitol Hill and the federal agencies.

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