Federal Funding of Research — AGA Advocates for Increased NIH Funding
Each year, more than 62 million Americans are diagnosed with digestive disorders, including foodborne illness, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, gastrointestinal cancers and motility disorders. In some of these areas, medical research has brought us closer to developing lifesaving treatments and cures. Yet, in others, we still lack even the basic understanding of the cause and transmission of the diseases.
Without Increased Funding, Scientific Discovery Will Languish
According to a 2008 NIH study entitled “The Burden of Digestive Diseases in the United States,”1 there are 72 million ambulatory care visits annually with a first-listed diagnosis of digestive disease. Many of these diseases are potentially deadly or debilitating and include colon, liver and pancreatic cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, foodborne illness, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The costs for treating these diseases exceed $140 billion annually. Funding research to identify effective treatments and cures for these digestive diseases can save the health-care system in the U.S. billions of dollars.
In order to sustain the progress in finding treatments and cures for these disabling diseases, the AGA supports the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research and the efforts of other organizations that work to ensure a robust research enterprise at NIH.
Sound Economic Investment
Research funding has proven to be a wise investment given that life expectancy has increased; death from heart disease, cancer and stroke is declining; and new technologies are able to detect and treat disease more quickly. A recent study by United for Medical Research2 found that every NIH dollar generates more than twice as much in state economic output. NIH grants and contracts created and supported more than 432,000 jobs that generated over $62 billion in economic activity in 50 states in 2010 alone.
The NIH Budget Has Lagged Behind Inflation for Years
It is essential that the momentum in research progress that NIH funding has generated be sustained by taking the next step to invest in predictable and sustained, long-term growth in NIH funding. This research enables our nation’s scientists to continue to make progress that will help improve the quality of care that Americans receive and ultimately find cures for so many diseases. Across the board budget cuts, known as “sequestration,” have had a devastating impact on research at the NIH. According to data from NIH, these cuts have had the following impact:3
In constant dollars (adjusted for inflation), the NIH budget in fiscal year (FY) 2013 was $6 billion (22.4 percent) less than it was in FY 2003.
The number of competing research project grants (RPGs) awarded by NIH has fallen sharply since 2003. In FY 2013, NIH made 8,283 RPG awards, which is 2,110 (20.3 percent) fewer than 2003.
Awards for R01-equivalent grants, the primary mechanism for supporting investigator-initiated research, suffered even greater losses. The number awarded fell by 2,528 (34 percent) between 2003 and 2013.
Call to Action: AGA Supports Increasing NIH Funding to $32 Billion in FY 2016
The AGA appreciates the fiscal constraints that our country is experiencing and we believe it is critical to get our country back on sound fiscal footing. However, given the role that research funding plays in promoting economic development, the AGA recommends that Congress fund NIH at $32 billion for fiscal year 2016, which represents the minimum investment necessary to avoid further loss of promising research and to allow the NIH budget to keep pace with inflation. The AGA also urges Congress to continue to protect NIH from additional automatic cuts, which could further erode progress in research and impede job creation and global competitiveness in the life sciences industry.
1Everhart JE, editor. The Burden of Digestive Diseases in the United States. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2008; NIH Publication No. 09-6443.
2Ehrlich E. NIH’S Role in Sustaining the U.S. Economy. United for Medical Research. 2012. Accessed at http://www.unitedformedicalresearch.com/advocacy_reports/nihs-role-in-sustaining- the-u-s-economy/.