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AAMC Remembers Research Champion, Former Senator Arlen Specter

October 19, 2012—Former senator and staunch research advocate Arlen Specter (Pa.) died at his Philadelphia home Oct. 14, after battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma for years.

The former lawmaker served 30 years in the United States Senate, mostly as a Republican. Over the course of his career, he served at the helm of the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, working in a bipartisan fashion with his counterpart Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to double funding for medical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In 2009, he crossed party lines to support the president’s stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5), after securing $10 billion for NIH in the package.

Shortly after, he changed his party affiliation to Democrat, issuing a statement defending his vote for the stimulus. Citing his intention to run for reelection, he explained, “I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done.” He lost his seat in 2010.

AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., issued an Oct. 15 statement hailing Senator Specter as a “passionate champion” for medical research and academic medicine. He noted that “[i]n addition to being a funding leader, Senator Specter was a strong supporter of federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, as well as upholding the peer review system. Patients, their families, and the research community lost a legendary leader.”


Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525


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