Over half the external research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is conducted by scientists at medical schools and teaching hospitals across the country.
Research is a long-term endeavor that requires sustained funding over many years that pays substantial dividends. For example:
- Research supported by NIH has led to advances in treating cancer, declining death rates from heart disease and stroke, and extended survival for people with HIV/AIDS.
- NIH-funded research was the basis for all 210 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 2010 and 2016.
- The NIH has supported research on sickle cell disease (SCD) since 1948, and the disease currently affects about 100,000 Americans. Today, an ongoing multi-center clinical trial is using gene therapy to replace the defective gene that causes SCD in patients’ blood cells, and as featured on 60 Minutes, is effectively curing them of the disease.
- In addition to improving the nation’s physical health, the investment in NIH also strengthens our fiscal health. In 2017, research at medical schools and teaching hospitals generated $25.4 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 313,500 jobs.
We are grateful to Members of Congress for their commitment to medical research by supporting above-inflation increases in the NIH budget over the last four years. Since FY 2015, Congress has helped the NIH regain some of the ground lost after over a decade of effectively flat budgets that greatly reduced NIH’s purchasing power. This renewed investment in NIH has advanced discovery toward promising therapies and diagnostics, reenergized existing and aspiring scientists nationwide, and restored hope for patients and their families. Even with the additional investment over the last four years, however, 4 out of 5 promising grant applications remain unfunded, and the NIH budget remains 9 percent below the inflation-adjusted funding level for 2003. We need to ensure a trajectory of robust, sustained funding growth for NIH to fully realize the potential of medical research.
Congress must continue the recent momentum of predictable, sustained increases in NIH funding to support medical research at medical schools and teaching hospitals nationwide. We urge Congress and the president to enact a spending bill that provides at least $41.6 billion for NIH in FY 2020. More than 315 organizations representing patients, clinicians, scientists, educators, and academic institutions support this funding level.
This funding level would represent a $2.5 billion (6.4 percent) increase over the comparable FY 2019 funding level and would allow specific initiatives – such as research focused on cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, precision medicine, regenerative medicine, and opioids – to flourish, while also providing a meaningful investment for NIH’s base budget to support all areas of research.