American Medical Progress: A Conversation with Candidates

American Medical Progress: A Conversation with Candidates

Georgia Senate Candidates Discuss U.S. Medical Progress with Local Research Stakeholders

Candidates shared their views on research and innovation at a non-partisan meet-and-greet

ATLANTA—May 9, 2014—Georgia U.S. Senate candidates discussed the role Congress plays in fueling U.S. medical innovation today at “American Medical Progress: A Conversation with Candidates,”  a non-partisan meet-and-greet held at the Technology Square Research Building. During the event, participants asked candidates about their positions on federal funding for research and private-sector innovation policies that affect how quickly new diagnostics, treatments and cures are developed. The event was part of the Ask Your Candidates! initiative, a non-partisan, national voter education project launched by Research!America, a non-profit advocacy alliance. www.askyourcandidates.org

Patients and their families expressed their concerns with the slow pace of medical progress, federal funding support for rare diseases and finding faster regulatory pathways for the approval of new therapies and medical products.

“Georgia contributes significantly to our nation’s  research enterprise with innovative studies aimed at combating  deadly diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer,” said Michael Coburn, Chief Operating Officer, Research!America.  “It’s important for voters to understand whether their candidates’ views on the priority of medical progress are aligned with their own.”

Medical innovation as an economic driver in Georgia was part of the  discussion. The life sciences industry and university research have a $20 billion annual economic impact on Georgia and employ more than 94,000 people. Government-funded basic research at Georgia universities, which lays the groundwork for private-sector medical innovation, has created a fast-paced medical innovation pipeline in Georgia.  However, the state lost $62 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding in FY13, and because the budget for NIH remains lower now than it was in 2010, research funding is increasingly scarce.

The Research and Development tax credit was also discussed.Congress is wrangling over whether to pass legislation that would expand and make the tax credit permanent, a step that would provide more investment opportunity and stability for life science companies and other private-sector innovators.

All of the Senate candidates were invited and asked to submit statements, and those who attended included Art Gardner (R), Derrick Grayson (R), Steen Miles (D) and as well as campaign representatives for Phil Gingrey (R), Jack Kingston (R), Michelle Nunn (D) and Branko Radulovacki (D), and David Perdue (R) provided a statement that was read at the event. Russell Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Bio, spoke about the impact of medical research on a myriad of issues including spurring private-sector innovation and helping to reduce health care costs which contribute to the national debt.

“As a physician, the son of a medical researcher, and a former fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Disease Association, I am completely convinced of the need for innovative medical research – in all fields of medicine,” said Radulovacki, in a statement. “If we intend to improve our nation’s health by focusing on better outcomes, lower costs and greater accessibility, [one] piece of our strategy has to be ongoing development of new treatments, medications and strategies for combating –and preventing – disease. Our quality of life depends on finding ever-better, ever-more-affordable solutions to health problems.”  

“As an engineer and patent lawyer, I have a deep-seated appreciation for medical research. While much of that research is funded by domestic industry or our federal government (through NSF, NIH, CDC, etc.), the market for the advances obtained from that research is truly global in scope,” said Gardner, in a statement. “Industry-led medical research tends to follow the biggest markets – industry tends to focus on innovations that will affect the most people over the longest period of time. Government research can play a key role in filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle by funding research into problems that are not quite as widespread.”

About Ask Your Candidates

Ask Your Candidates is a non-partisan effort designed to educate voters, not advocate for any particular candidates. Candidates are encouraged to submit statements about medical and health research and innovation for the initiative’s website: http://www.askyourcandidates.org/.

About Research!America

Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations representing 125 million Americans. Visit http://www.researchamerica.org/.

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana