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Senate Appropriations Panel Examines Role of Federal Investment in Innovation

May 2, 2014—The Senate Appropriations Committee April 29 held a hearing to explore the role of federal funding in driving innovation.

Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) began the hearing saying, “I've been troubled, as have been my colleagues on both sides of the aisle saying, are we running an innovation deficit? Yes, we have to focus on our budget deficit but are we becoming so austere we could be capping our future growth.” She also recounted her visit earlier in the day to the Wilmer Eye Clinic at Johns Hopkins, which she described as “a global waiting room” where people “come here for American medicine, American know-how that depends on American research.”

In his opening remarks, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the committee’s ranking Republican, said, “I've long been a proponent of the research conducted by the National Institutes of Health.... Even in a constrained fiscal environment, ensuring that NIH has the tools to advance biomedical research is an investment with broad benefits to society.”

Witnesses who appeared before the Committee were: John P. Holdren, Ph.D., director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Ernest Moniz, Ph.D., secretary of energy; Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director, National Institutes of Health; France A. Córdova, Ph.D., director, National Science Foundation; and Arati Prabhakar, Ph.D., director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Defense.

Dr. Collins said, “What we desperately need is a new bipartisan plan to secure a steady funding trajectory for biomedical research and insure long-term stability for NIH's mission.” He cautioned the committee, “As our own investments in R and D have struggled to keep up with inflation, other countries that read our playbook are scaling up, seeking to replicate our track record and threaten our dominance.” He added, “While we welcome investments by other countries to the global research enterprise, surrendering our leadership will have serious long-term consequences for U.S. health and economic success.”

The AAMC was among more than 100 organizations that submitted testimony for the hearing record.  The AAMC’s statement  urged Congress to find a bipartisan solution to restore stable and predictable funding for NIH.  The AAMC highlighted interdisciplinary initiatives on the cusp of combining novel breakthroughs in the way genomic research is conducted with the development of a comprehensive electronic health record system to integrate medical care with research. The testimony also cited the detrimental effect reduced funding in the NIH has had on a new generation of scientists. Additionally, the AAMC signed on to a joint statement submitted by 50 business, higher education, scientific, and patient organizations.


Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559


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