December 08, 2017

Following Exchange with NIH Director, Warren, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Increase Funding for Biomedical Research

National Biomedical Research Act Creates New Funding Stream to Support NIH and FDA

HELP Hearing Video (YouTube)
Text of the bill (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today introduced the National Biomedical Research Act, following an exchange with National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins during a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The legislation would increase funding for targeted biomedical research initiatives through a new, reliable funding stream supporting the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The purchasing power of the NIH has been cut by Congress for more than a decade. This funding boost would help restore the NIH budget roughly to its 2006 levels, adjusted for biomedical inflation.

During the hearing, Director Collins confirmed that currently, NIH only funds about 19 percent of the grant applications submitted by research scientists, including many high-quality applications that would advance biomedical science. "If we look back in history, say back around 2000, 2001, we were funding about 30 percent, maybe even 35 percent because funds were more available," said Director Collins.  

"If we doubled, for example, the number of grants that we were able to fund, you think there's still a lot of good science to be had out there?," asked Senator Warren. "I think there'd be fantastic science," responded Director Collins.  

"Families across this country are waiting for medical breakthroughs, and researchers are waiting for money to fund their work so they can make those breakthroughs," said Senator Warren.  "It's time for us to step up and put more money into NIH."

The National Biomedical Research Act would create the Biomedical Innovation Fund, a new fund designed specifically to provide predictable investments in life-saving biomedical research conducted by leading scientists at the nation's top research institutions. The funding would provide $5 billion annually in supplemental funding for grants for young emerging scientist, and breakthrough research that will help accelerate the development and approval of new medicines, improve prevention, and increase understanding of life-threatening diseases. Right now, NIH rejects nearly nine of eleven grant proposals, one of the highest rejection rates in history and far below the 1/3 success rate called for by agency leaders, because of a lack of resources. Predictability of funding for biomedical research will create stability for researchers and accelerate the pace of scientific advancements.

The legislation has received support from more than two dozen patient and research advocacy groups‎. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are original cosponsors of the legislation.