Advocates rally to protect federal funding of cancer research
The White House released a 2018 budget outline last Thursday that cuts National Institutes of Health (NIH) spending by nearly 20 percent. NETRF shares the concern expressed by other cancer-related organizations and our collaborators that a funding decrease of this magnitude could disrupt, even derail, America’s cancer investigators and research institutions.
NIH funding critical
More than 80 percent of the $32 billion NIH budget is awarded to universities, medical schools and other research institutions through a competitive grant process. NIH grants often comprise a significant portion of an institution’s or individual investigator’s funding.
“NETRF is proud to be the largest non-government funder of neuroendocrine cancer research, but we cannot do this alone,” said Ron Hollander, NETRF executive director. “Many investigators rely on NIH funding. These cuts could be disastrous to researchers doing meaningful, critical work.”
Who would fill the gap?
Since the Cancer Act of 1971, NIH has led the fight against cancer and it again set its sights on curing cancer in 2016 with the Moonshot initiative. Breast, lung, and other cancers with higher incidence rates than NETs are more commonly funded, nevertheless, important NIH-funded research is underway.
NETRF funds research at the nation’s top cancer centers where NIH funding shortfalls could imperil the very teams working on our projects. In addition, certain critical major projects are fully reliant on federal funding. In 2015, University of Iowa received a 5-year, $10.67 million NIH grant to study neuroendocrine tumors. As a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant through the National Cancer Institute (NCI), it was the first of its kind to investigate NETs.
Even when NIH funding isn’t directly supporting NET research, critical advancements filter down.
- Research on genomic sequencing has helped identify mutations associated with NETs.
- Research on immunotherapy has been applied to NETs.
- Advances in nuclear medicine and molecular imaging have helped improve treatment of NETs.
Make your voice heard
The NET community has a specific perspective. Individuals with this type of cancer endure considerable frustration and disappointment. Years go by without an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms are misinterpreted. Warning signs are missed. Cancer grows and spreads during the search for answers. For advanced cases, treatment options are limited. Research can help to diagnose and treat NETs with greater speed and precision. Share your thoughts on the importance of preserving our nation’s current commitment to NIH research with your friends, colleagues, and elected officials today.
Make the need for NET research known. There is much work to be done. We still don’t understand the causes of NET cancer. Treatments proven effective in other cancer types have not stopped NETs from progressing. We need to find successful cures. Scientific and clinical research can ask and answer these important questions. Make sure your voice is heard.
- Find contact information for your elected officials at USA.gov
- Download and customize a message to send to your U.S. senators or representatives.
- Learn how to arrange a meeting with a member of Congress through the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
- Get informed about policy issues at the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)