Many of you may be wondering what the results of last week’s election will mean for mesothelioma research. Overall, medical research funding has fared well under the Obama administration, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) receiving level funding over the past four years. With inflation, this actually means there were small cuts each year, but given the economy, it is fair to say it has fared well.
In an interview given to Research!America, a research advocacy group based in the DC area, President Obama gave the following response when asked about his plans for investing in research through the NIH:
I believe that by maintaining and growing our support for key basic research we are strengthening our communities; this is why I have made a commitment to double our investment in scientific research over the next 10 years. Even in these difficult funding times, I have fought to support funding for the National Institutes of Health.[i]
In 2011, the NIH funded 23 mesothelioma grants. The NIH houses the National Cancer Institute (NCI), on which many meso warriors depend for access to clinical trials. Access to clinical trials is imperative for the meso community given the current existence of only one, marginally effective, FDA approved mesothelioma treatment (Alimta).
On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took a deep cut in fiscal year 2011, which has not been recovered. The CDC funds the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank (NMVB)[ii], an essential resource for mesothelioma researchers that allows them to access virtual mesothelioma tissue samples. The NMVB is run by Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s board member Michael Becich, MD, PhD. Funding for the CDC is crucial to the survival of the NVMB. In the same interview, President Obama states:
The work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is critical for our mission to preserve and protect health and safety of our citizens. My most recent budget provides $11.3 billion for CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a significant increase.
Most immediately, the President is under pressure to take the lead on avoiding the fiscal cliff, as mandated in the Budget Control Act of 2011, set to occur January 2, 2013 if Congress does not act to pass a budget before the end of the year. The Meso Foundation estimates that this fiscal cliff, also known as a sequester, would result in the cut of two mesothelioma research grants in 2013.[iii] Washington pundits believe that this win will embolden the President to push a new plan of his own that includes targeted cuts and increases in tax revenue. The targeted cuts, as opposed to the across the board cuts mandated by the sequester, would likely protect NIH and CDC funding and that is good news for mesothelioma research funding.
The Meso Foundation will continue to monitor what happens in the coming Congressional “Lame Duck” session. Stay tuned!
[i] Accessed on the Research!America website November 8, 2012 http://www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org/profile.php?c_id=NTUwMA%3D%3D
[ii] Learn more about the NMVB: http://www.mesotissue.org/
[iii] Read more about the fiscal cliff on our blog: http://curemeso.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/sequestration-to-cause-cuts-of-two-federally-funded-mesothelioma-research-grants/