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Lawmakers and scientists push for steady research funding

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Representative Underwood address the media

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Reps. Bill Foster and Lauren Underwood announced Monday (April 15) a new legislative push, designed to secure the stability of federal funding for scientific and biomedical research. The legislators introduced the initiative at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The three Illinois Democrats announced the American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act, which are meant to provide annual budget increases to federal agencies responsible for a significant part of America’s research funding. Among the agencies that could be affected are the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

“Our leadership research is at risk,” Sen. Durbin said. “Unless we commit ourselves with confidence to regular funding on research we run the risk of falling behind, not just in finding cures but in leading the world.” 

The American Cures Act -- for which Rep. Underwood is the lead House sponsor -- would provide annual budget increases of 5 percent plus inflation at America’s top four biomedical research agencies: National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense Health Agency and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program.

The American Innovation Act -- for which Rep. Foster is the lead House sponsor -- would provide annual budget increases of 5 percent for cutting-edge research at five important federal research agencies: The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, among others.

“Biomedical research benefits all of us at so many levels especially here in Illinois,” Underwood said. “We know that biomedical research leads to better medicines and diagnostic tools, better health outcomes and hope for future cures.”

Young researchers from Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine were on hand to show support.

“I have seen firsthand how important federal funding is to training the next generation of researchers,” said Constantine Nickolozakes, a medical scientist at Feinberg. “Simply put, my colleagues and I could not be training as we currently are without the financial support from the NIH funding that the American Cures Act plans to augment.”

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