Durbin Welcomes NIH Director to Chicago to Highlight Need for Strong National Commitment to Medical Research Funding

CHICAGO – In an effort to preserve the United States' global competitiveness, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) welcomed National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, to Chicago today and called for strengthened federal funding for breakthrough scientific and biomedical research.?

For several years, Durbin has championed increased federal investment to reverse years of cuts and flat funding for our nation’s biomedical research agencies, including the NIH. After discussions about the needs of the NIH with Dr. Collins, Durbin introduced the American Cures Act to support the future of biomedical research. The legislation will provide five percent real growth – above inflation – year after year for the NIH along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program.

In a reversal of a decades-long downward trend, the two most recent federal funding bills have included funding increases for the NIH, with the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016 including a $2 billion increase - based on targeted funding levels set by the American Cures Act - for a total NIH funding level of $32.1 billion. Senator Durbin fought to ensure that the fiscal year 2017 Senate appropriations bill includes another $2 billion increase for the NIH next year, but this legislation has not yet been signed into law.


“With the support of robust, sustained federal funding, there is no limit to what science can do to prevent, treat and cure diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. I've made it a priority to ensure that young researchers and bright scientists at our nation’s research institutions have the funding they need to discover the new cures that will change the world,” Durbin said. “I’m grateful that Dr. Collins is visiting Chicago to see firsthand some of the great scientific research being done in Chicago, and to discuss the need for stable, predictable biomedical research funding.”


"It's great to have a chance to see personally some of the exciting research NIH is supporting at institutions in Chicago," said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.  "And it's an honor to be able to do that with Senator Durbin, who has been a tireless champion for biomedical research funding." 


Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project.  As Director of the NIH, he oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research.


Dr. Collins testified before a Senate Committee in April where he anticipated that in the next decades, doctors will be able to diagnose neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s much earlier; find new effective therapies to delay the onset of these devastating diseases; and rebuild parts of the human heart without needing to rely on transplants.? But these life-saving and life-improving advances will only be realized if we continue on a steady, predictable growth path of investment in biomedical research.?