NIH

Dear Research Advocate: News this week from researchers in Brazil on hearing loss in infants born to mothers who have been infected with the Zika virus underscores the reality that we are far from seeing light at the end of this public health crisis tunnel. CDC Director Tom Frieden and NIAID Director Tony Fauci wrote on the perils of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” in funding the nation’s response to Zika in yesterday’s Washington Post . We are fortunate to be welcoming both of these leaders to our National Health Research Forum next week, so will have an in-the-moment update. Some 76% of Americans now say Congress should make passing the emergency Zika response an important priority when they...
This blog post originally appeared August 3, 2016 on the Sick Chicks and The Mighty . "Congress is working together on a nonpartisan issue that will have a profound effect on the lives of all Americans. H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, will bring our health care innovation infrastructure into the 21st Century, delivering hope for patients and loved ones and providing necessary resources to researchers to continue their efforts to uncover the next generation of cures and treatments." - Mission Statement , House Committee of Energy Commerce, 21st Century Cures Is it just me or do you get chills reading that paragraph? Finding advocacy allowed me take control of an uncontrollable situation...
Dear Research Advocate: Both the Republican and Democratic platforms highlight the importance of achieving medical progress, responding to the fact that Americans place a high value on achieving health and wellness (see my Huffington Post blog last Friday discussing our newest survey results ). A portion of the first day of the Democratic convention this week was devoted to public health topics, including the opioid abuse crisis . Secretary Clinton chose Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate, a policymaker with a solid track record on public health; a strong proponent of prevention. In Sen. Kaine’s speech last evening, he emphasized the importance of research to defeat Alzheimer’s and...
Dear Research Advocate: The party conventions mark the official start to the general election. In Cleveland we heard rousing daily themes of “Make America (aspirational word) Again”. I kept hoping for “healthy” or “innovative,” aspirations we know rank high with Americans, but that was not to be. Nor -- at least as of this writing -- have any speakers addressed medical progress. Even so, the official Republican platform recognizes the importance of medical research and innovation for our economy and for patients. The Democratic platform , which will be adopted at the DNC convention next week, in fact makes similar points. We’ll see if research and innovation make it into the convention...
Dear Research Advocate: Today, the House Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee marked up its FY17 funding bill, which includes funding for NIH, CDC and AHRQ. NIH received a $1.25 billion increase, $750 million less than the Senate increase. Given the subcommittee’s overall budget allocation ($569 million below fiscal year 2016) and the more conservative funding climate in the House, this is still an extraordinarily positive outcome. At the markup, Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK-04) noted that the $1.25 billion increase set a floor - rather than a ceiling - for NIH funding in FY17, a positive sign for potential negotiations with the Senate later in the process. The House Labor-HHS bill proposes a...
Dear Research Advocate: If you’ve read Ron Chernow’s “Hamilton,” you know that the partisan stand-off we are witnessing in the House, and more broadly across the nation, is not new. Chernow reminds us that political parties -- not originally foreseen by the Founding Fathers -- grew out of intense and often ugly disagreements between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson during the second administration of George Washington. That insight doesn’t make this week’s turn of events less dramatic, but it does offer perspective. In the midst of the Democratic sit-in on preventing gun violence, the House adjourned earlier than expected and won’t resume business until July 5. Just before adjourning...
Dear Research Advocate: The news from the CDC this week is concerning. For the first time in over a decade the overall, all-cause mortality rate for the U.S. is higher than in the preceding year. This unexpected news comes on the heels of last week’s announcement confirming the first U.S. case of an E. coli infection resistant to colistin, a last-resort antibiotic, reminding us of just how important it is to curtail and outpace antimicrobial resistance. And we have word of the second baby born in the U.S. with microcephaly due to Zika, as well as a new estimate that 300 pregnant women in the U.S. have the virus. On their own, each of these stories should serve as a wake-up call for...
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6 th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affecting 11% of the population 65 years and older. Without a treatment or prevention breakthrough, studies estimate there could be as many as 13.5 million Americans living with the disease by 2050 with associated health care costs rising above $1 trillion. However, the research has progressed, as scientists unlock and unveil the secrets of the brain. Recently, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that measures of the tau protein are better markers of the cognitive decline of Alzheimer's than measures of amyloid beta...
Dear Research Advocate: The CDC has concluded that a causal relationship exists between the Zika virus and microcephaly. Earlier this week, Congress passed a law providing incentives for private sector development of Zika vaccines and treatments. But responding to threats like Zika is a resource-intensive, multi-pronged process. We are working with the March of Dimes and other partners to fight for emergency funding. Interested in joining this effort? Let me know! The Senate Appropriations Committee has parsed the overall FY17 discretionary budget into “302(b)” allocations for its various subcommittees. Given that the topline numbers are virtually flat, it is not particularly surprising...
Dear Research Advocate: A report out this week by United Health Foundation concluded that an astonishing 72% of Americans have at least one of the five most impactful “unhealthy behaviors” (smoking, physical inactivity, insufficient sleep, excessive drinking or obesity). A White House report out this week quantifies the massive public health threat brought on by climate change and outlines the emerging issues, supporting evidence and the research required to curb these predicted effects. The need for improved public health is more evident then ever, and public health research is the best way to develop evidence-based, outcome-oriented interventions. Good thing it’s National Public Health...

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco