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.
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. 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 many diseases.
From fiscal year (FY) 2003 to FY 2015, NIH lost 22 percent of its capacity to fund research due to budget cuts, sequestration and inflationary losses. Awards for R01-equivalent grants, the primary mechanism for supporting investigator-initiated research, also suffered substantial losses. The number awarded fell by 1,420 (19 percent) between 2003 and 2016.
In FY 2016 and 2017, Congress appropriated substantial increases to NIH’s budget to restore funding to pre-sequestration levels, but more work still needs to be done. The current funding level represents what it should have been in 2012 when considering inflation. The two-year increase in funding has led to 832 additional research grants being awarded.
Please urge your member of Congress to fund NIH at $36.1 billion for FY 2018. This increase represents the minimum investment necessary to avoid further loss of promising research and to allow the NIH budget to keep pace with inflation. Also, urge your member of 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.