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Murray: The basic research NIH supports leads to the discoveries that give hope to those living with chronic and life-threatening disease.
 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered remarks at a hearing to review the National Institutes of Health (NIH) FY 2017 budget request. In her remarks, Senator Murray highlighted key efforts underway at the NIH in regards to human genetics, neuroscience, and our understanding of the human brain. In particular, Murray expressed her support for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative that is using the genetics of cancer to find more effective therapies.

 

Murray expressed her hope for bipartisan work on an LHHS bill that would allow continued strong investments in NIH and other critical priorities, and discussed her ongoing negotiations on including strong mandatory funding for the NIH and the FDA as part of a legislative effort to advance medical innovation in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Today, the NIH is taking advantage of the achievements made in human genetics, neuroscience and other fields to make major advances in our understanding of the human brain and diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Its Precision Medicine Initiative is using the genetics of cancer to find effective therapies. NIH’s MATCH trial is taking the testing of cancer mutations to a national level with the hope that many more patients will be helped. I’m proud that Washington state is home to several institutions that are on the cutting edge of this field. We’re on the cusp of major breakthroughs on so many of the illnesses that cost lives and hurt families each day—and I think we should make sure our scientists and researchers have all the tools and resources they need.”

 

“I was very pleased that in the recent budget deal, Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to boost discretionary investments in the NIH. That was an important step forward—but I don’t see any reason to stop there. That’s why I’ve made clear, in my discussions with Chairman Alexander about legislation to advance medical innovation in the HELP Committee, that if we really want to get patients safer, more effective treatments and cures, we have to take advantage of every funding opportunity, including mandatory investments in the NIH. It’s a make or break priority. So, I remain hopeful that we’ll be able to write a bipartisan appropriations bill in this subcommittee for fiscal year 2017, and continue strong support for NIH and the many other critical investments in this bill.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.

 

“Dr. Collins, thank you for being here.

 

“I am so grateful for all you’ve done to champion the critical work of the NIH—you have truly been a great partner.

 

“And welcome Doctors Volkow, Austin, Hodes, Koroshetz, and Lowy. I look forward to the discussion this morning.

 

“The investments we make here in this subcommittee help keep families and communities healthy, by supporting programs that — reduce infant mortality, train doctors and nurses, provide care in rural communities, prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and so much more.

 

“The NIH accounts for the largest share of our subcommittee’s resources, and its work is vital to these efforts.

 

“The basic research it supports leads to the discoveries and breakthroughs that—give hope to those living with chronic and life-threatening disease; and help drive economic growth and competitiveness.

 

“Today, the NIH is taking advantage of the achievements made in human genetics, neuroscience and other fields to make major advances in our understanding of the human brain and diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

“Its Precision Medicine Initiative is using the genetics of cancer to find effective therapies. I recently heard from a woman named Janet in my home state of Washington who benefited from this focus on targeted treatment.

 

“Although she had been in good health and a non-smoker, Janet was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer that quickly advanced to stage 4.

 

“With her treatment options exhausted, she learned online about a mutation-testing opportunity.

 

“This led to a treatment that successfully targeted her cancer mutation—and it saved her life. That was three years ago, and thankfully Janet’s illness remains under control.

 

“NIH’s MATCH trial is taking the testing of cancer mutations to a national level with the hope that many more patients will be helped.

 

“The Vice-President’s Moonshot initiative will accelerate these efforts, expand access to clinical trials and improve data sharing – all with the goal of saving more lives.

 

“I’m proud that Washington state is home to several institutions that are on the cutting edge of this field.

 

“These include the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington, which are using precision medicine to tackle breast cancer, leukemia and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.

 

“Nearby, the Allen Institute is working, with support from the NIH, to map and unlock the secrets of the human brain.

 

“We’re on the cusp of major breakthroughs on so many of the illnesses that cost lives and hurt families each day—and I think we should make sure our scientists and researchers have all the tools and resources they need.

 

“I know members on both sides of the aisle agree—so this is not a partisan issue.

 

“I was very pleased that in the recent budget deal, Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to boost discretionary investments in the NIH. That was an important step forward—but I don’t see any reason to stop there.

 

“That’s why I’ve made clear, in my discussions with Chairman Alexander about legislation to advance medical innovation in the HELP Committee, that if we really want to get patients safer, more effective treatments and cures, we have to take advantage of every funding opportunity, including mandatory investments in the NIH.

 

“It’s a make or break priority. So, I remain hopeful that we’ll be able to write a bipartisan appropriations bill in this subcommittee for fiscal year 2017, and continue strong support for NIH and the many other critical investments in this bill.

 

“And I’m also committed to continuing to work toward a bipartisan agreement on the innovations package that builds on the progress we made so far in recent months with additional, sustained funding.

 

“Patients and families across the country are waiting and hoping for better cures and treatments—and here in Congress, we should do our part to deliver.

 

“Thank you and now I’ll turn it back over to the Chairman.”