During my time as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, I've consistently advocated for the issues that Missourians care about most. One of my top priorities has been to increase our investment in groundbreaking medical research.
That's why I'm proud to say that the Appropriations Committee has once again passed a bipartisan funding bill that includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health. We were able to provide this increase within a bill that is $800 million lower than last year. In this difficult budget environment, my subcommittee had to make difficult choices, prioritize funding, and consider how to best allocate limited resources. The bill provides NIH with:
- Increases for Every Center and Institute at NIH: These increases will give doctors and researchers in Missouri and across the country the resources they need to treat and cure the most deadly and costliest diseases, including Alzheimer's disease.
- $1.8 Billion for Alzheimer's Disease Research: This bill includes a $414 million increase for Alzheimer's disease research, a 29.3 percent increase from last year. I'm proud that, since I've become subcommittee chair, Alzheimer's research funding has tripled from $580 million to $1.8 billion.
- $400 Million for the BRAIN Initiative: The bill provides a $140 million increase to the BRAIN Initiative, which is working to map the human brain.
- Increases for Precision Medicine: The bill includes $80 million for the National Cancer Institute's Precision Medicine Program, a $10 million increase for the program. It also provides $290 million for the All of US precision medicine study, an increase of $60 million. As Dr. Douglas Lowy, the Acting Director of the National Cancer Institute, explained at a 2016 subcommittee hearing, precision medicine research is critical for determining how "you deliver the right drug, to the right patient, at the right time."
Before I became chairman, funding for NIH had been stagnant for over a decade, its purchasing power had decreased by more than 20 percent, and very few grants were being made. NIH's researchers are working tirelessly to develop new treatments and cures, and they need the resources to make meaningful progress on the work they're doing. If we keep investing in NIH, they will continue to make lifesaving breakthroughs.
In fact, some of those lifesaving breakthroughs are happening right here in Missouri. Washington University played a key role in the Human Genome Project that allowed researchers to pioneer the sequencing of cancer genomes. This discovery led to the ability to tailor cancer treatments for people based on genetic data.
I visited Washington University last month with Dr. Christopher Austin, director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at NIH. Washington University is part of the NCATS Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, which works to accelerate medical discoveries. Washington University has received three awards through the program, and part of that funding is being used to research the Zika virus. According to new findings by Washington University, research into the Zika virus could lead to new discoveries in the fight against brain cancer.
While this bill forced us to make some tough decisions, I’m happy we were able to continue a pattern of responsibly investing in biomedical research by eliminating or consolidating programs that weren’t needed or weren’t working. I believe this bill reflects the priorities of Missourians, and I look forward to continuing my work to ensure your voice is heard in Washington.
You can click here for additional highlights funded in the bill.