Medical research not only benefits the health of individuals, it benefits communities and the local economy, said Rep. David McKinley (R-WV-01) during Research!America’s 28th Annual Meeting of Members on Wednesday, March 15 in Washington, D.C. “We know that the NIH supports over 400,000 jobs across America. Every year NIH writes grants for [scientists and institutions across the country]. That’s significant.”
In her remarks, award-winning actress and Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) spokesperson Kathy Bates stressed the importance of research in tackling lymphedema, a chronic and often-misdiagnosed disease of the lymphatic system that causes painful and disfiguring swelling throughout the body. She also called on medical schools to spend more time teaching students about the lymphatic system.
Lymphedema, which affects 10 million Americans – more than MS, muscular dystrophy, ALS, Parkinson’s and AIDS combined – can put sufferers at risk for other conditions like the bacterial skin infection cellulitis. Although there’s currently no cure for lymphedema, treatment includes wrapping the affected areas in compression garments. Bates urged Congress to pass a bill that would help cover the cost of those garments.
The meeting also featured a panel discussion about lupus research featuring Allie Gutshall, a patient advocate and Lupus Foundation of America volunteer, Sue Dillon, Ph.D., global therapeutic head at Janssen R&D, and Christopher Collins, M.D., a rheumatologist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
“Fifty percent of lupus patients go on disability within three years of their diagnosis,” Collins said. He called for increased investments to support new drug development to help more patients remain in the workforce.
Dillon said Janssen is structured in a way that has basic researchers working side-by-side with clinical researchers, which streamlines the process of translating new science into “new drugs or new possibilities.”
To view a video of the meeting, click here.