On September 14, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) President Thomas O. Baldwin, PhD, joined nearly 400 advocates from scientific organizations, patient groups, and research institutions to take part in the Rally for Medical Research Capitol Hill Day. The day-long event, now in its fifth year, was organized to urge Congress to provide an additional $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget, building upon two years of funding increases.
To reach this goal, advocates called on members of Congress to reach a bipartisan budget agreement that would lift discretionary spending caps and thereby allow appropriators to bolster funding for biomedical research. Leading up to the event, Dr. Baldwin shared his perspective on the importance of research advocacy in a Facebook live video broadcast.
At a reception the prior evening, senators from both parties lauded the biomedical research community for its advocacy efforts and promised to continue their support for medical science. In his remarks, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chairman of the Senate Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, vowed to continue his efforts to increase the NIH budget and extended his gratitude to congressional colleagues for their bipartisan collaboration. Similar sentiments were expressed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Jerry Moran (R-KS). NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, provided perspective on areas of medical research where he sees tremendous promise in the near future.
On the morning of Hill Day, participants gathered at a breakfast to hear remarks from patient advocates and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), Chairman of the House Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. Cole praised attendees for their advocacy efforts and urged them to continue to fight for biomedical research funding. The rally participants then proceeded to Capitol Hill for a day of meetings with members of Congress and their aides.
During his day of meetings, Dr. Baldwin met with the offices of Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Representative Richard Larsen (D-WA), Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA). Baldwin discussed how a steadily increasing budget for biological research enables scientific discovery and conveys vast benefits to society. He also emphasized the role that NIH has in funding scientific education and training programs, and ensuring that young scientists have viable career paths in biomedical research. Hill Day participants also provided each office with FASEB factsheets on the support each state receives from NIH.