Senate Approves Durbin-Authored Resolution Commemorating Discovery of Polio Vaccine

Resolution calls on the U.S. to boost funding for basic biomedical and scientific research

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Ahead of World Polio Day, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) applauded Senate passage of his bipartisan resolution commemorating the discovery of the polio vaccine and supporting efforts to eradicate the disease everywhere it exists. The resolution was introduced earlier this year to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the announcement of the discovery of the first safe and effective polio vaccine. The resolution encourages federal funding for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and for biomedical and basic scientific research so that more life-saving discoveries can be made. A copy of the resolution can be found here. On Saturday, Durbin will join the global health community in celebrating World Polio Day on social media using the hashtag #WorldPolioDay.


“I remember the fear of polio and the frightening diagnoses my generation faced before Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine,” Durbin said. “The success of the polio vaccine shows us what medical research can accomplish with the right commitment. This is a decisive moment of historic opportunity. We must continue to invest in basic science research in order to reap the rewards of decades of work by the best scientific and medical minds in the world.  In the words of Dr. Salk, ‘the only way we can fail is by stopping too soon.’”


The bipartisan resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Roy Blunt (R-MO). The resolution is also supported by the March of Dimes, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the UN Foundation’s Shot-at-Life campaign, and RESULTS.


Federal funding for research and development has been on a downward trend for the past several decades. 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 lack of funding has led to a $1.5 trillion investment deficit and a growing number of America’s best young researchers are taking their talents to other industries – and other countries.


Recently, Durbin introduced a pair of bills that would reverse the trend of cutting back on basic research. The bills – The American Innovation Act and The American Cures Act – would set steady growth rates in federal appropriations for biomedical and scientific research conducted at the nation’s premier federal research agencies.


In March, Durbin introduced The American Innovation Act, which would provide annual budget increases of 5% – over and above inflation – for cutting edge research at five important federal research agencies: The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Directorate. More information on the bill is available here.


Earlier this year, Durbin introduced The American Cures Act, which would set 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. More information on the bill is available here.