Medical Research: The Best Investment We Can Make in Our Future

While the cure for cancer has been elusive, President Obama’s National Cancer Moonshot initiative offers renewed hope that we could see breakthroughs in prevention, detection, and treatment for a disease that affects millions of Americans and their families. The cancer moonshot is the latest demonstration that Washington understands the potential for medical research to change lives and improve the health of all Americans. It builds on the bipartisan support we saw last fall when House and Senate negotiators agreed on a $2 billion budget increase for medical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Today, each American pays less than $100 each year to support cutting-edge medical research programs through federal funding for NIH. In my nearly four decades as a physician-scientist, I have seen that investment pay off through major advances in treatments, diagnostic tools, and medical devices. Researchers–many of them at medical schools and teaching hospitals across the nation–have reduced death rates for coronary heart disease and stroke by 70 percent and reduced infant mortality by 40 percent through studies made possible by NIH funding. Today, NIH-funded research is pioneering advances that will help all of us live longer and healthier lives, from new knowledge of the brain and novel treatments for cancer to improvements in our understanding of common illnesses like influenza.

Consider the story of a young girl named Emily. At seven, she had already undergone two rounds of chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. When the cancer returned, Emily and her parents visited the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Childhood Cancer Research, where she underwent an experimental therapy developed by a team of doctors and scientists to treat pediatric cancers resistant to conventional treatments. Three weeks later, Emily was in remission, and three years later, she remains cancer free.

Decades of —> Read More