Congress Must Act to Protect Biomedical Research

US capitol building
US capitol building
The Endocrine Society is urging Congress to address shrinking federal budgets that may hinder groundbreaking medical research.

The continuing resolution funding the federal government is set to expire on Dec. 11. The way Congress decides to address this deadline will have serious implications for patients and physicians alike.

The federal government supports crucial biomedical research through its investments in science, but those investments have taken a serious hit in the past decade. During that time, the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has remained flat. Meanwhile, biomedical researchers have faced rising costs due to inflation. This has led to fierce competition among researchers for a shrinking pool of dollars.

With even established scientists struggling to secure financial support, many bright, young researchers are being pushed out of the field or forced to look for positions overseas. Who knows how many groundbreaking medical advances that could improve the lives of our patients will go undiscovered if this situation continues?

Richard J. Santen, MDRichard J. Santen, MD

Yet, that is exactly what could happen. Amid the current political gridlock, some members of Congress are calling for a continuing resolution to keep the federal government running. Unfortunately, this temporary solution would require the NIH and other federal agencies that support medical research to continue operating with even less than their current, limited budgets.

To protect future breakthroughs, Congress needs to pass an omnibus funding measure before Dec. 11. A spending bill would provide the stability and funding needed to continue the search for treatments to benefit millions who have conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, obesity, infertility and cancer.

Countless life-changing advances have resulted from federally funded research. In our field of endocrinology, the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases supported promising work to develop a bionic pancreas to control blood glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes. We need the federal government to fund more potentially game-changing projects like this, not fewer.

One of the best ways we can help our patients is to urge Congress to pass a funding bill supporting the NIH. Take a moment to contact your members of Congress, or send a note through the Endocrine Society’s online advocacy center. Our patients are counting on us to protect tomorrow’s cures.

Richard J. Santen, MD, is President of the Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology.