Durbin Introduces Legislation To Preserve America's Global Leadership By Investing In Breakthrough Biomedical Research

[WASHINGTON, DC]. – With a decline in federal biomedical research threatening our global competitiveness, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the American Cures Act to support the future of research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Defense Health Program (DHP), and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program. Durbin first introduced this legislation during the previous Congress last year.

“Just one week ago, President Obama stood before the American people during the State of the Union and called on our country’s great minds to lead a new era of medicine and scientific breakthrough. I could not agree more,” Durbin said. “In the last two centuries, U.S. government support for scientific research has helped split the atom and map the human genome. Maintaining significant funding for scientific research is the smartest investment we can make, and it will pay for itself.”

In 2012, fifty-three percent of all funding for basic research came from the federal government. Yet as a percentage of the total federal budget, the federal government spends two-thirds less on research and development today than it did in 1965. At NIH – the foremost biomedical research institute in the world – the percentage of research grants that receive funding has declined almost every year for the past 10 years.

The American Cures Act would reverse that trend by setting a steady growth rate in federal appropriations for biomedical research conducted at NIH, CDC, DHP, and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program. Each year, the bill would increase funding for each agency and program at a rate of GDP-indexed inflation plus 5 percent. This steady, long-term investment would allow the agencies to plan and manage strategic growth while maximizing efficiencies.

Making a serious, sustained investment in federally funded biomedical research is especially critical as other countries around the world are placing a priority on their own research investments. Between 2004 and 2012, the United States’ share of worldwide research and development expenditures fell by 13 percent – from 52.5 percent to 44.2 percent – while Asian countries increased their share by roughly the same fraction – from 13 percent to 20 percent. Moreover, while the annual growth rate in medical research investments remains extremely low in the United States – at just 1.5 percent per year – Europe is growing its investments in medical research by 4.1 percent per year, and Asia is growing its investments by 9.4 percent per year.

During the last Congress, Durbin – who currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on the Defense – introduced two pieces of legislation to improve orthotics and prosthetics care for the nation’s service members and veterans. The American Cures Act would further support the doctors and researchers at DHP and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program who are developing state-of-the-art care for the 1,700 individuals who have suffered combat-related limb loss in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 40,000 veterans with limb loss served by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The America Cures Act is co-sponsored by: U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).


The American Cures Act is also supported by: the University of Chicago; the University of Illinois; Loyola University; the American Cancer Society; the American Heart Association; the American Physical Therapy Association; the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research; the American Society for Microbiology; the American Society of Transplantation (AST); the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health; the Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service; the Cure Spinal Muscular Atrophy (formally Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy); the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization-iBIO®; Research! America; the Spina Bifida Association; the AIDS Institute; the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association; YMCA; and the Wounded Warrior Project.