Press Release

U.S. Rep. Castor files legislation today to boost America’s commitment to medical research, lift wages In Tampa Bay area

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Washington, February 5, 2015 | comments
Today, U.S. Rep. Castor filed the Permanent Investment in Health Research Act to remove medical research funding from the political whims of congressional budget battles and place the National Institutes of Health on more certain footing. The legislation was inspired by young researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center and University of South Florida who have expressed deep concern for the drastic cuts to research grants and their offers of jobs outside the United States.
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Today, U.S. Rep. Castor filed the Permanent Investment in Health Research Act to remove medical research funding from the political whims of congressional budget battles and place the National Institutes of Health on more certain footing. The legislation was inspired by young researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center and University of South Florida who have expressed deep concern for the drastic cuts to research grants and their offers of jobs outside the United States.

“The path to a healthy America is through research at all levels--basic research to promote new discoveries, translational research such as developing precision medicine approaches to deliver the best and most effective care, and improvement of the delivery of care by promoting wellness and improving access to quality care,” said Dr. Bill Dalton, CEO of M2Gen, a national biotechnology subsidiary of Moffitt Cancer Center. “Second, it promotes science and a knowledge-based economy-- leading to jobs and an improving economy for our community.” 

Flat funding and cuts to NIH are eroding America’s global competitive edge and costing high-paying jobs in the Tampa Bay area and across the country.

“As scientific funding dries up, so also do the career prospects of junior scientists like myself and my colleagues,” a postdoctoral scientific research fellow at Moffitt recently told U.S. Rep. Castor. “In addition, it becomes a great burden for remaining staff scientists to take on the existing projects from those scientists who have been let go due to the shortage of funds. Our future health as a community – physical and economic –  depends on continued scientific funding.” 

The Permanent Investment in Health Research Act will shield medical research funding from the mindless austerity of Congressional Republicans.

“We will only save lives if we can robustly fund medical research in America and keep America as a world leader,” U.S. Rep. Castor said. “Today, funding for medical research is discretionary and at the mercy of the budget battles in Congress. This harms momentum towards cures and creates economic uncertainty.” 

An article published last month by Journal of the American Medical Association  shows research funding is suffering in the United States, while other countries increase their support: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2089358.  This study shows the need for the United States to step up funding for medical research to keep a competitive edge.

The legislation was filed jointly with U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), who serves alongside U.S. Rep. Castor on the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee. U.S. Rep. Butterfield also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus and represents the Research Triangle in North Carolina. 

“Funding for medical research is too essential to be subjected to political squabbles,” said U.S. Rep. Butterfield.  “This bill ensures that regardless of the political climate medical research will be considered as a non-discretionary program, guaranteeing funding, jobs, and scientific advancement.”

In addition to NIH funding lagging behind inflation over the last decade, from 2010 – 2013, funding decreased 11.4 percent. In 2013, Florida suffered a $67 million setback, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“What happened during those years? Republican budgets, sequester, government shutdowns,” U.S. Rep. Castor explained. “During this time, interest in biomedical research by the rest of the world increased.” 

Tampa Bay researchers have been awarded more than $180 million in NIH funding over the last five years to discover cures, treatments and drugs for the marketplace. While life sciences has revved the local economy and makes up $3 billion in wages in Tampa Bay, according to statistics released last year by the Tampa Bay Partnership, cuts to federal research dollars pose a real threat to continued growth.

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