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Blunt Secures 7th Consecutive Increase for Life-Saving, Cost-Saving NIH Research

March 09, 2022

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), the top Republican on the Senate 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 $45 billion in the fiscal year 2022 Labor/HHS appropriations bill, a $2.25 billion increase over last year’s level. The bill is expected to be considered by the full Senate later this week. 

“Over the past two years, researchers were able to develop multiple safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and tests for the novel COVID-19 virus faster than many thought possible,” said Blunt. “The foundation for our rapid response to the pandemic started years prior, with a pattern of significant NIH funding increases that supported the development of a nationwide network of nearly 500,000 researchers. The COVID-19 response also benefited from the federal government becoming a more active partner in research and development. Initiatives like Operation Warp Speed and RADx allowed researchers to get more vaccines, therapeutics, and tests into the pipeline and accelerated the approval process while maintaining the highest safety and efficacy standards. Now is the time to leverage the lessons we’ve learned and apply that knowledge to find new treatments and cures for the nation’s most costly and deadly diseases, like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other infectious diseases, that impact millions of Americans.”  

Blunt previously secured six consecutive funding increases for NIH, bringing the seven-year total increase to $15.4 billion, or 51%, under Blunt’s subcommittee leadership.

Blunt continued, “Missouri researchers are at the forefront of our most important discoveries, from continuing the fight against COVID-19, to developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease, to discovering a potential new treatment for liver cancer. We are on the verge of new medical breakthroughs, like precision medicine, that have the potential to fundamentally transform healthcare delivery in this country. And we have made tremendous progress toward treating mental health like all other health, but there is more work ahead. To keep the momentum going, we need to continue a pattern of predictable increases in NIH funding. It is one of the most important federal investments we can make to lower costs over the long term and help people live longer, healthier lives.” 

According to data from United for Medical Research, NIH funding supported nearly 536,000 jobs and more than $91 billion in economic activity nationwide in 2021. In Missouri, NIH funding supported $1.9 billion in new economic activity and more than 10,900 jobs. In 2020, Missouri institutions received $785.7 million in NIH funding for 1,440 grants. Since Blunt has been the top Republican on Labor/HHS, from 2015 through 2021, NIH funding to Missouri institutions increased by $314.1 million or nearly 67%.

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

  • $1 Billion for ARPA-H: $1 billion for the newly established Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).  ARPA-H will focus on advanced research specifically for our most pressing health challenges and bridge the gap between scientific discovery and commercialization. It will be a nimble research organization that can react quickly and focus on high-impact/high-risk research.
  • $3.48 Billion for Alzheimer’s Disease Research: The bill increases funding for Alzheimer’s disease research by $289 million from last year’s level. In 2021, caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is expected to cost $355 billion, making it the most expensive disease in America. Since Blunt became the top Republican on the Labor/HHS Subcommittee seven years ago, Alzheimer’s disease research funding has more than quintupled, increasing from $631 million to nearly $3.5 billion.
  • $6.9 Billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI):The bill includes $6.9 billion for NCI, an increase of $353.67 million above FY2021. Within NCI funding, the bill provides:
    • $50 million in continued funding for the Childhood Cancer Data program to connect and integrate multiple childhood cancer data sources;
    • $30 million for the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act, which Blunt cosponsored. The STAR Act is a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that expands opportunities for childhood cancer research, improves efforts to identify and track incidence of childhood cancer, and enhances the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors;
    • $400 million, an increase of $150 million, to prioritize competing grants in cancer research and sustain commitments to continuing grants. Grant applications to NCI have increased by approximately 50% since 2013, with requests for cancer research ten-fold greater than other Institutes.
  • $25 Million for ACT for ALS: The bill includes new, targeted funding for the Accelerating Access to Clinical Therapies for ALS Act, passed by the Senate and signed into law in December. The bill establishes a grant program to fund research on promising investigational treatments for people living with ALS who are not eligible for clinical trials. Blunt cosponsored ACT for ALS.
  • $620 Million for the BRAIN Initiative: The measure increases funding for the BRAIN Initiative by $60 million above FY2021. 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.
  • $606.65 Million for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA): The measure includes more than $606 million, an increase of $19.8 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.
  • $2.2 Billion for Mental Health Research: The bill includes $2.2 billion, an increase of $113.3 million, for mental health research at the National Institute of Mental Health.
  • $245 Million for Research on the Universal Flu Vaccine:The bill provides an increase of $25 million in targeted funding to advance progress toward a universal flu vaccine. Saint Louis University is part of NIH’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units working on a universal flu vaccine.
  • $1.02 Billion for Opioid & Pain-Related Research:The bill includes more than $1 billion for research on opioid addiction, development of opioids alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment, an increase of $75 million. 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. The bill also provides NIH flexibility to use the dedicated $500 million in opioid funding for stimulant research. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, illicit fentanyl use and heroin use have increased, and overdoses in May 2020 were 42% higher than in May 2019.
  • $52 Million for Regional Biocontainment Laboratories:The bill increases funding for RBLs to conduct research on biodefense and emerging infectious disease agents by $12 million. One of the 12 labs is located at the University of Missouri.
  • $114 Million for Lyme and Related Tick-borne DiseasesResearch: The bill includes dedicated funding for Lyme disease and related tick-borne disease research. This funding will bring the total funding inFY2022 to $114 million.
  • $644 Million for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research: The bill includes a $15 million increase to help combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs. This investment will expand efforts to developnew antibiotics, create rapid diagnostic tests, and build a national genomesequence database on all reported resistant human infections. Funding is complementary to the $25 million increase for AMR activities in the HHS Office of the Secretary.
  • $12.6 Million for the Gabriella Miller Kids FirstResearch 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.

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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