Rallying for Medical Research and Progress

Rallying for Medical Research and Progress

04.09.13 | By Stephanie Fischer

I joined a crowd of hundreds of researchers, patients, and doctors at the Rally for Medical Research yesterday. The rally, organized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and supported by nearly 200 partnering organizations (including PhRMA), was described in one news report as potentially the largest gathering of medical scientists to urge support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Universal Support for Increased Funding for NIH Research Patient advocates joined representatives from AACR and Research!America as well as Members of Congress on stage to stress the importance of increased funding for NIH for medical research. President Obama was unable to attend but sent a statement of support which was read to the crowd: Throughout our nation's history, we have depended on the ingenuity of our people to pioneer innovation and solve the problems of our time. To meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, we must commit to a serious, sustained effort to advance medical research. By investing in the best ideas and supporting the work of our scientists, we will improve health and change lives in ways we could have never imagined. And in taking bold steps to further discovery today, we will inspire the doers and makers of tomorrow and ensure America stays at the forefront of human understanding. Cokie Roberts, cancer survivor and MC for the event, explained that, "It could not be a stupider time to cut back on funding for medical research... We are right on the cusp of so many breakthroughs. And this is the exactly the moment to push forward, certainly not to pull back or even to stay even." Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), an ovarian cancer survivor and member of the House Committee on Appropriations, told the crowd that "Breakthroughs do not just happen. We have to keep funding the life-saving research that pushes the frontiers of medical science. We have to fund the surveillance and public health infrastructure that go hand-in-hand with that research." Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D., President of the Rockefeller University and Former Chief Scientific Officer of Genentech, Inc., expressed concern that cuts in funding for science research are discouraging young from pursuing careers in research which will "lead to the long-term decline in our scientific enterprise." Commitment of Biopharmaceutical Industry to R&D The dynamic, collaborative research ecosystem that exists in the U.S. among government, academic, and biopharmaceutical companies is one of our greatest strengths in moving medical advances forward. Funding basic research at the NIH and at the universities, hospitals and other research institutions throughout the country which receive NIH research grants is critical. What is also critical is the research and development by America's biopharmaceutical companies, which invest in early-stage research and the long, expensive and risky drug development process necessary to make new medicines available to patents. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies alone have invested approximately $550 billion in the research and development of new therapies for a wide range of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and HIV/AIDS. This strong commitment is reflected in the robust biopharmaceutical pipeline. PhRMA released a report earlier this year on the more than 5,400 medicines in development globally. More than 70% of therapies in the pipeline are potentially first-in-class and could offer patients new treatment options, and a notable number of potential therapies target diseases with limited treatment options such as ALS and rare diseases. Fulfilling the promise of this pipeline requires long-term regulatory, scientific and economic policies that encourage continued private investment in biomedical research. Call to Action Former Congressman John Porter (R-IL), Chair of Research!America, concluded the rally by urging the crowd to be "intellectual activists" and tell Congress to make federal funding for medical research a national priority. It is not too late to get involved. You can watch the webcast on YouTube, visit the Rally for Medical Research website and check out the Twitter conversation with #RallyMedRes. More Progress. More Hope. More Life.

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