An $895 Billion Loss vs. a $1.6 Billion Investment

Investment in cancer research protects both the health of Americans and our country.

If you are in the DC area on April 8, you might consider joining the rally to preserve NIH funding.

The American Cancer Society recently estimated that all cancers extract an $895 billion burden on our world’s economy. That’s a lot of lost lives and dollars. But the fact remains, unless we raise the call and adjust some mindsets, that larger number will undoubtedly grow if we cut important investments in bioscience and cancer research.  This doesn’t even take into account what will happen to America’s leadership in technology and science.

In response to the news of sequestration and cuts to medical research programs, many leaders in the field are responding:

The current NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, calls the cuts “devastating,” noting that 2,300 fewer grants will be funded. And former NIH director, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, said in an interview with the Washington Post this winter that the sequester cuts “will impact science for generations to come.”

The first recent effort to roundup bipartisan support for continued investment in medical research, A Celebration of Science, was led by The Milken Institute and FasterCures in September 2012. Now I am glad to see the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) step up with a public rally planned for Washington, DC next month.

Rally for Medical Research will raise an outcry against proposed budget cuts by Congress that could slash funding to the National Institutes of Health by up to $1.6 billion. The AACR is asking its membership of approximately 33,000 cancer physicians and researchers – as well as numerous other groups and the community in general – to voice their concerns on April 8 at 11 am in our capital’s Mt. Vernon Square. The rally will call on the nation’s policymakers to step up to the plate and make life-saving medical research funding a national priority.  A coalition of more than 100 groups representing medical organizations, universities, medical centers, and patient advocacy, including PCF, support the effort.

The Rally continues work begun 20 years ago, leading to the first-ever Cancer Summit in 1995 and the 1998 MARCH on Washington, which brought together hundreds of thousands of patients, doctors, researchers, and other advocates in a bipartisan effort to support increased bioscience investments. The MARCH brought together prominent leaders along with more than more than 100,000 people representing 600 cancer organizations to gather on the National Mall in Washington in 1998 to demand increased investments for medical research. In the years following the 1998 March, Congress doubled the resources of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and tripled the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF). That investment in science and technology led to increased private investment, as well as philanthropy, setting in motion a virtuous cycle that created years of productive research and discovery.

This stands in stark contrast the budget sequestration that went into effect on March 1st of this year, slashing $1.6 billion from the NIH budget—a 5.1 percent cut in funding. This comes atop an essentially flat NIH budget that, when adjusted for inflation, is actually about 20 percent lower than it was ten years ago. To see what NIH funding has brought to your community, here is an interactive map of NIH-funded grants and the scientific breakthroughs generated.

Healthy citizens, a healthy and competitive America, and a step up against global cancer–the world’s number one cause of death… To me, that seems like an investment worth making.

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