Politicians announce legislation to increase federal research funding


Julia Esparza/Daily Senior Staffer

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) speaks at the Feinberg School of Medicine. He and other politicians introduced legislation that would increase federal research funding over the next five years.

Julia Esparza, City Editor

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) along with U.S. Reps. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) announced legislation Monday that would consistently increase federal research funding over the next five years.

“How do you end up with the best research in the world?,” Durbin said. “Get the best researchers. How do you get the best researchers? Not only invest in their education, you give them hope and promise that if they started their research, they can finish it.”

The politicians joined Northwestern researchers and scientists Monday morning in a press conference at the Feinberg School of Medicine to announce The American Cures Act and The American Innovation Act, which specifically target science and biomedical research funding. The legislation comes after President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would cut research funding in the 2019 Fiscal Year to the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The American Cures Act asks for annual budget increases of 5 percent plus inflation at America’s top four biomedical research centers: the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program.

The American Innovation Act would provide annual budget increases of 5 percent for research at five 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 Science Directorate.

Durbin said these two acts work with each other as biomedical innovation develops with and is influenced by scientific innovation and vice-versa.

Underwood — who is the lead House sponsor of The American Cures Act — called for a commitment to sustaining investments made to science and biomedical research. She said federal research funding is important in finding cures to life-threatening diseases and in sustaining further research efforts.

“Federal funding for biomedical research is also key to maintaining world-class university research programs and a vibrant life sciences industry that supports high-quality jobs, over 200,000 of which are here in Illinois,” Underwood said.

During the press conference, Durbin invited Dr. Melissa Simon, the vice chair for clinical research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Feinberg, to talk about the impact federal funding has made on her research. She pointed to funding her lab received from the National Cancer Institute for several cancer patient navigation studies. She said the outcomes of the studies helped improve disparities in cancer screenings and treatment outcomes among black and white patients.

“As you can see, research is not something that you can turn off or on and it requires sustained efforts and sustained funding,” Simon said. “Otherwise, labs close and these large research efforts will fold.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @juliaesparza10

Related Stories:
Growth in sponsored research driven by increase in federal grants
Has the shutdown affected Northwestern’s federal research funding? Not yet