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Mary Lasker’s assertion is as true today as it was in the 1943 when she first campaigned to convince legislators and policy makers to increase funding for cancer research – an effort that led to the passage of the National Cancer Act in 1971 and to a many-fold funding increase for the NIH.
Yet despite powerful scientific advances which have led to new therapies and technologies to ease human suffering, biomedical research is once again in need of our support.
Biomedical research has improved the quality of life and extended the lifespan of people around the globe. Diseases like smallpox and polio have been eradicated. Deaths from heart attacks and strokes have been drastically reduced. HIV is no longer a death sentence, and a cure has been developed for hepatitis C. Many cancers are now treatable and the number of cancer survivors alive today is steadily increasing.
Other medical technologies under development, such as the 3-D printing of human organs and neuro-prosthetics, are tantalizingly close to coming to market. In labs across the country, research scientists are making breakthroughs that will continue to extend the “health span” for Americans.
A sustained and growing federal budget for biomedical research is essential to avoid delaying the discovery of new cures and therapies. If research funding is stalled, people will suffer. Moreover, research projects will inevitably be cancelled and the job pipeline for young researchers will shrink, significantly attenuating scientific progress.
Investment in biomedical research – from all sectors including government, industry, and philanthropy -- saves lives. It also builds our economy. Economists estimate that investments in research provide substantial economic returns with patents, innovation and job creation. And the improved population health decreases the astronomical costs of treating chronic diseases, increases productivity, and accelerates economic growth.
Funding for scientific research has historically garnered bi-partisan support. In fact, since World War II, the US government has prioritized investment in scientific and medical research, elevating American institutions, researchers, and discoveries to prominence among the global community.
Now is the time to show our resolve to ensure sustained funding for biomedical research.
Each of us must make our voices heard:
Support robust federal investment in biomedical research. Investment in biomedical research is an investment in the American people and in our economy.
Remember: “If you think research is expensive... try disease!”