PHILADELPHIA — On behalf of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), we offer our sincere appreciation to Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) for bringing attention to the vital importance of federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) during a full committee hearing on federally funded cancer research.
We are especially grateful to the many members of the committee who share our deep concerns about the devastating impact that President Donald Trump’s proposed NIH budget cuts would have on lifesaving medical research and the health of Americans. We applaud Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings for their bipartisan commitment to reject cuts to the NIH budget, and we wholeheartedly agree with Chairman Chaffetz’s call to make medical research “a national imperative.”
Witnesses at the hearing included Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, deputy director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and AACR President-Elect for 2017-2018; Tyler Jacks, PhD, director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and AACR President 2009-2010; Mary C. Beckerle, PhD, chief executive officer and director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and member of the AACR Science Policy and Government Affairs Committee; and Tammi Carr, a patient advocate whose son passed away from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare form of pediatric brain cancer.
The witnesses provided compelling testimony in regard to how federally funded cancer research saves lives, improves our economy, and protects our future pipeline of young investigators.
- “Cancer research in the United States leads the world in innovation and success, and the recent successes in science and medicine cannot continue without an increased government investment,” said Jaffee. “A renewed and more robust investment will provide continued support for innovation, ensure the future health of our medical and technology industries, provide a sustainable career path for young scientists who will be the future innovators, and importantly, provide the opportunity to rapidly develop new cancer treatments and prevention strategies to once and for all eradicate cancer.”
- “The increase in funding for the NIH in the FY2016 budget was a welcome relief for our field after 13 years of stagnant budgets,” said Jacks. “The president’s preliminary FY2018 budget document has had a chilling effect on our colleagues and on our trainees. If it were to stand, the effects on the American biomedical research enterprise would be felt for years to come.”
- “Our federal government has an unmatched and irreplaceable role in supporting cancer research,” said Beckerle. “Our continuing and future success requires an unwavering and bipartisan commitment from Congress and the administration to continue to invest in lifesaving biomedical research. The need is great and the time is right. Research is the hope for the future.”
- “Federal funding is critical to recruiting the best and brightest scientists into pediatric cancer research, and no amount of fundraising by family foundations can replace that,” said Carr. “If NIH funding is reduced, it will stifle progress for some of the most vulnerable people in our country who face devastating diseases like DIPG.”
In addition to strongly objecting to the shocking proposal from the Trump administration to cut $5.8 billion from the NIH budget in fiscal year 2018, the AACR also wishes to express its fervent opposition to this week’s proposal from the Trump administration to reduce the $2 billion increase for the NIH that is currently being supported by Congress for fiscal year 2017 by $1.2 billion. We call on Congress to reject these damaging and shortsighted proposals from the Trump administration and to instead continue on its current path to maintain the momentum that was initiated in fiscal year 2016 when members of Congress joined together to secure a $2 billion funding increase for the NIH.