News Releases

Murray stressed the need for investment into biomedical research institutions to prioritize a robust research enterprise that speeds the development of treatments and disease prevention. 

Biden administration’s budget request calls for biggest budget increase for the national institutes of health in the agency’s history, including a $6.5 billion request to establish an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) 

Senator Murray: “Where we are at today, is a testament to the tireless work scientists at NIH have been doing to study this disease and how we can best fight it, and to oversee clinical trials for vaccines, therapeutics, and more to ensure they are safe and effective.” 

Murray also called for NIH to lead efforts to address bias and discrimination, and sexual harassment and assault in biomedical research 

Senator Murray: “With as much as we invest in NIH each year, and as important as its work is to families, we cannot afford to have this agency’s potential limited, or its success threatened by bias, discrimination, harassment, or assault in the workplace.” 

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS HERE*** 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), held a hearing focused on the importance of strengthening investments in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support lifesaving research—as President Biden has proposed in his budget request. During the hearing, Senator Murray highlighted the significant role NIH has played fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged her colleagues to support increased investment in NIH in order to prioritize public health and keep families across the country healthy.

“Where we are at today, is a testament to the tireless work scientists at NIH have been doing to study this disease and how we can best fight it, and to oversee clinical trials for vaccines, therapeutics, and more to ensure they are safe and effective,” Senator Murray said in her opening remarks. “Of course, as our witnesses know, our historically fast progress in fighting COVID-19, and developing safe and effective vaccines was really years in the making. The pace of discovery we’ve seen this past year was made possible by research into mRNA vaccines we funded in response to Ebola and other viruses and by a biomedical research enterprise that has been built over decades to become one of the most cutting edge in the world. This should be an important reminder, when it comes to biomedical research—you can never fully predict how the discoveries of today, will prepare you for the challenges of tomorrow.”

During her remarks, Senator Murray emphasized how President Biden’s budget request will fund research of public health problems to help American families, including funding to improve treatments for addiction and substance use disorders, aid the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and rare diseases families, and combat the health effects of climate change, gun violence, and systemic health inequities. In addition, Murray highlighted the President’s proposed $6.5 billion Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health initiative, which seeks to speed up the development of medical treatments by funding innovative projects.

She also spoke about the need for NIH to lead the biomedical research field when it comes to addressing bias, discrimination, harassment, and assault—and raised the issue in her question with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.

 “Of course, at the end of the day, innovation isn’t just driven by new programs, and new investments, it’s driven by people. Which is why, with as much as we invest in NIH each year, and as important as its work is to families, we cannot afford to have this agency’s potential limited, or its success threatened by bias, discrimination, harassment, or assault in the workplace. Unfortunately, we know that in the biomedical research community the prevalence of researchers of color, is too low, and the prevalence of sexual harassment, is too high. These are real problems with real consequences for biomedical research and the people who do the lifesaving work we’re all benefiting from today,” said Senator Murray.

Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“As of today, almost half of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, and while we have a lot of work left to do to reach communities who still can’t get vaccines, and reassure people who may still have questions about them, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I want to thank all our witnesses—especially Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci for putting in long hours, and putting science first.

“Where we are at today, is a testament to the tireless work scientists at NIH have been doing to study this disease and how we can best fight it, and to oversee clinical trials for vaccines, therapeutics, and more to ensure they are safe and effective.

“Of course, as our witnesses know, our historically fast progress in fighting COVID-19, and developing safe and effective vaccines was really years in the making.

“The pace of discovery we’ve seen this past year was made possible by research into mRNA vaccines we funded in response to Ebola and other viruses and by a biomedical research enterprise that has been built over decades to become one of the most cutting edge in the world.

“This should be an important reminder, when it comes to biomedical research—you can never fully predict how the discoveries of today, will prepare you for the challenges of tomorrow.

“That’s why you have to build a robust research enterprise, recruit diverse, world-class talent, and make sure scientists can do their work free from political interference.

“And President Biden’s budget, which proposes over $50 billion dollars for NIH, and the largest increase in the agency’s history, will go a long way toward making sure we continue to prioritize this.

“This budget will reinforce our work to fight COVID-19, along with so many other diseases and disorders that threaten families in Washington state, Missouri, and across the country.

“It includes funding to improve treatments for addiction and substance use disorders and funding to aid the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and rare diseases families across the country are grappling with.

“President Biden’s budget request will also fund research to help us study the health effects of climate change—which may be increasing the number of infectious disease outbreaks identify solutions to gun violence—which continues to claim tens of thousands of lives each year in our country, and root out the health inequities in our country—which are undermining the health of people of color, people with disabilities, rural communities, those paid low incomes—and more.

“The President has also proposed $6.5 billion for a new initiative, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.

“Like the defense initiative it is inspired by, ARPA-H is envisioned as breaking the mold for how cutting edge research is conducted—speeding up the development of medical treatments by funding innovative projects.

“I’m interested to hear more as about how it can add to NIH’s work and operate as something truly distinct from its other traditional biomedical research programs.

“Of course, at the end of the day, innovation isn’t just driven by new programs, and new investments, it’s driven by people.

“Which is why, with as much as we invest in NIH each year, and as important as its work is to families, we cannot afford to have this agency’s potential limited, or its success threatened by bias, discrimination, harassment, or assault in the workplace. 

“Unfortunately, we know that in the biomedical research community the prevalence of researchers of color, is too low, and the prevalence of sexual harassment, is too high.

“These are real problems with real consequences for biomedical research and the people who do the lifesaving work we’re all benefiting from today.

“I commend NIH for the efforts it has taken on both of these fronts so far.

“NIH has done work to examine barriers to diversity among its researcher ranks, and how its own practices have reinforced structural biases that allow discrimination to persist. 

“But more work remains to tear down these barriers, and create lasting change.

“And when it comes to sexual assault, Director Collins I’m glad you’ve taken some forceful action to address the problem among the NIH workforce.

‘”But NIH must do more to use its enormous influence with the research community to enforce change in the nation’s universities and research institutions.

“I expect NIH to continue building on its efforts so far to remove racism, discrimination, and harassment from research—and I’m going to continue to follow up on our progress here.

“Finally, as proud as we all our of our nation’s biomedical research institutions we don’t invest billions of dollars in biomedical research out of pride, nor do we invest them to help pharmaceutical companies make astronomical profits.

“We do it to bring new treatments, cures, and hope to people across the country—and across the world.

“It’s important we never lose sight of this.

“Because even the most brilliant miracle cure can only save people if they can actually get it.

“Just as I hope to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make lifesaving investments in biomedical research—like those proposed in the President’s budget.

“I also hope we can work together to bring health care costs down—especially for prescription drugs, keep working toward universal health coverage, and bring the cures we are investing in, to the families who need them.

“And now I’ll turn it over to Senator Blunt for his remarks.”

###