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Blunt-Led Funding Bill Provides 5th Consecutive Increase for Life-Saving, Cost-Saving NIH Research

Funding for NIH Research Up More Than 38% Under Blunt's Subcommittee Chairmanship

December 16, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), today announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has received nearly $41.7 billion in the fiscal year 2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill, a $2.6 billion increase over last year’s level. The bill was filed today and the full Senate is expected to consider it on the floor later this week.

“Federal investment in the National Institutes of Health has provided millions of Americans and their families with hope, especially at a time when we are on the verge of so many potential breakthroughs,” said Blunt. “NIH-funded research has raised life expectancy and vastly improved the quality of life for all Americans. In addition, it has lowered health care costs and spurred economic growth by supporting jobs in research and generating biomedical innovations.” 

Blunt previously secured four consecutive funding increases for NIH, bringing the five-year total increase to $11.6 billion, or 38.6% under Blunt’s subcommittee chairmanship.

Blunt continued, “In my home state of Missouri, NIH research has discovered an enzyme responsible for the spread of cancer, supported research aimed at improving cancer immunotherapy, and is getting us closer to a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. But further progress depends on sustained, predictable increases in NIH funding that allow researchers to build upon previous discoveries. It is one of the most important investments we can make as a federal government.” 

In fiscal year 2019, Missouri received $640.5 million in NIH grant funding, generating more than $1.4 billion in economic activity and supporting 8,400 jobs. Nationwide, medical research supports more than 433,000 jobs and nearly $74 billion in economic activity. The influx in funding over the last four years has restored more than half of the purchasing power NIH lost since its peak in fiscal year 2003. 

Following Are Several of the Key NIH Investments Included in the Labor/HHS Bill:

$2.82 Billion for Alzheimer’s Disease Research: The bill includes $2.82 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, a $350 million increase from last year’s level. Currently, Medicare and Medicaid spend $195 billion caring for those with Alzheimer’s, making it the most expensive disease in America. Since Blunt became subcommittee chair five years ago, Alzheimer’s disease research funding has more than quadrupled, increasing from $631 million to $2.82 billion.

$6.44 Billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI): The bill includes $6.44 billion for NCI, an increase of $299.4 million above FY2019. Within NCI funding, the bill provides:

o   $50 million in new funding for the President’s Childhood Cancer Data program to connect and integrate multiple childhood cancer data sources; 

o   $25 million for the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act, which Blunt cosponsored. The STAR Act is a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that would expand opportunities for childhood cancer research, improve efforts to identify and track incidence of childhood cancer, and enhance the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors;

o   $212.5 million to prioritize competing grants in cancer research and sustain commitments to continuing grants. Grant applications to the National Cancer Institute have increased by approximately 50% since 2013, with requests for cancer research ten-fold greater than other institutes.

$500 Million for the BRAIN Initiative: The measure increases funding for the BRAIN initiative by $71 million above FY2019. The BRAIN Initiative is developing a more complete understanding of brain function, which could help millions of people who suffer from a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.

$500 Million for the All of Us Precision Medicine Initiative: The measure includes $500 million to fund the All of Us precision medicine study, an increase of $161 million from FY2019. This study will enroll one million Americans to take into account differences in biology, lifestyle, and environment to discover new paths towards delivering individualized precision medicine. 

$578.1 Million for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA): The measure includes $578.1 million, an increase of $18.4 million, for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ CTSA program. Washington University’s CTSA is part of the national program aimed at accelerating discoveries toward better health.

$2 Billion for Mental Health Research: The bill includes $2 billion, an increase of $161.7 million, for mental health research at the National Institute of Mental Health.

$200 Million for Research on the Universal Flu Vaccine: The bill provides an increase of $60 million in targeted funding to advance progress toward a universal flu vaccine. Under Blunt’s leadership, funding for a universal flu vaccine has more than quadrupled in the last three years. St. Louis University is part of NIH’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units working on a universal flu vaccine.

$511 Million to Combat Antibiotic Resistance: To help combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs, the bill provides a total of $511 million, an increase of $50 million over last year’s level to expand efforts to develop new antibiotics, create rapid diagnostic tests, and build a national genome sequence database on all reported resistant human infections. Antibiotics have been used to successfully treat patients for more than 70 years, but over time, the drugs have become less effective as organisms adapt to the drugs designed to kill them. 

$818 Million for Opioid & Pain-Related Research: The bill includes $818 million for research on opioid addiction, development of opioids alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment. If patients with acute or chronic pain do not have reasonable access to non-addictive pain medications or alternative treatments, it will be difficult to get the opioid crisis under control. This includes $500 million in dedicated funding provided to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

$425 Million for Infrastructure Improvements on NIH’s Campus: The bill provides a $225 million increase to support NIH’s Bethesda Campus, including a 200-bed research hospital, numerous laboratories, outpatient clinics, and administrative and facilities space. The funding increase follows a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report stating there is a $1.3 billion backlog in facilities maintenance on the campus. More than 72% of the facilities in Bethesda are over 20 years old and the average “condition index” is in the poor range. 

$5 Million to Combat Foreign Threats to Research: The bill includes $5 million for NIH to continue its work with HHS’ Office of National Security to combat foreign threats to the research infrastructure. Blunt discussed this issue at a Labor/HHS subcommittee hearing in April, particularly China’s Thousand Talents program aimed at recruiting NIH-funded researchers to steal intellectual property, cheat the peer-review system, establish shadow laboratories in China, and help the Chinese government obtain confidential information about NIH research grants.

$12.6 Million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act: The Gabriella Miller Kids First Act, which was signed into law in 2014, created a dedicated fund for pediatric medical research. The bill provides the resources authorized under the law, and prioritizes funding for pediatric cancer research.

National Academies Study on Organ Allocation Policies: The bill includes funding for a new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study on organ allocation policies, particularly related to livers. Blunt has led efforts against the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s move to change the liver allocation policy. The new policy could lead to a 32% drop in liver transplants in Missouri.

In addition, the bill provides increases to every NIH Institute and Center to continue investments in innovative research that will advance fundamental knowledge and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures to improve the health of all Americans.

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