Newswise — Washington, DC—Endocrine Society President Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD, today submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services recommending that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) receive at least $32 billion in FY 2015. This recommendation represents the minimum investment necessary to avoid further erosion of national research priorities, while allowing the NIH’s budget to keep pace with biomedical inflation.
The Society’s membership includes thousands of basic and clinical scientists who receive federal support from the NIH to fund endocrine-related research on topics including diabetes, cancer, fertility, aging, obesity and bone disease. Federal funding for biomedical research has dramatically advanced the health of Americans, and the Society is alarmed that future breakthroughs and novel treatments are jeopardized by flat funding that has reduced the NIH budget to a level that is 22 percent below the NIH budget in FY 2003.
The benefits of NIH-funded biomedical research are evident. In endocrine research alone, individuals with diabetes have made significant improvements in managing their disease, and the obesity rate for children age two to five years old has dropped by 43 percent. Despite these advancements, the number of NIH research grants to scientists in the United States has been declining since 2004.
“The likelihood of a scientist with a highly-regarded grant application successfully being awarded a grant has dropped from 31.5 percent in 2000 to an historic low of 16.8 percent in 2013,” said Dr. Woodruff. “This means that experienced scientists are increasingly spending time writing grant applications instead of applying their expertise to productive research.”
With fewer funds available, fewer scientists are able to sustain their work or keep their labs operational. In 2013, the number of NIH supported scientists declined significantly, with nearly 1,000 NIH scientists dropping out of the workforce.
“The lack of sustained government support compounded by austerity measures such as sequestration has created an environment that is leading to a ‘brain drain’ as brilliant scientists pursue other careers or leave the United States to develop impactful research products elsewhere,” said Dr. Woodruff.
In her testimony, Dr. Woodruff also asked the committee to encourage the NIH to acknowledge sex differences as a critical biological variable. Many studies lack female study subjects which is an obstacle to researchers presenting more representative data on safety and efficacy of drugs.
“Innovative experiments and clinical research hold promise to solve some of our nation’s greatest medical challenges and improve our quality of life,” said Dr. Woodruff. “The Endocrine Society strongly supports increased federal funding for biomedical research to enable American scientists to address scientific opportunities and maintain the country’s status as the preeminent research engine.”
Dr. Woodruff’s letter to the House Appropriations Committee can be found online here.
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Founded in 1916, the Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, the Endocrine Society’s membership consists of over 17,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Washington, DC. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/EndoMedia.