Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the former director of the International Human Genome Project, was the featured guest at a dinner meeting. Dr. Collins discussed with President Rubenstein the damage lack of federal funding for NIH is doing to scientific research in America.
He said NIH provides more than $30 billion in funding to 300,000 scientists, an amount that has not changed significantly since 2003. According to Dr. Collins, this represents an almost 20 percent decrease in funding available for research. This lack of financial support, Dr. Collins said, is hampering much needed breakthroughs in medical research and driving some scientific researchers out of the field and/or causing them to leave the United States for countries with better financial support for health care research. “The consequences of that for losses in terms of human health advances, loss to our economy, and damage to our generation of young scientists is so hard to look at,” he said, adding, “It is so frustrating that we have in this town this kind of gridlock with all of this unfortunate hammering of innocent bystanders – the medical research community – to the detriment of our own country.”
Excerpts from Event
“I love this amazingly paradoxical life, David. Every day, standing at the helm of this remarkable institution called NIH, I find out about something amazing that some scientist has done ... And then, in the same daily experience, is this frustration that we could be doing so much better. We should be going so much faster. We could have much sooner than we otherwise would a universal vaccine for influenza, so you wouldn’t have to take that yearly shot and we wouldn’t have to worry about pandemics in the future. We could have cancer that was more precisely diagnosed and treated sooner than we are getting right now. We could have answers to autism quicker than we currently have. Everything’s going about half the pace that it could.” ~ The Honorable Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
“A recent poll said roughly one in five young scientists has now seriously considered going to another country because other countries ... read the American playbook from 20 years ago. They saw what our investments in research did to our economy, to the vibrancy of the American experience, and they're trying to replicate that. Look at China. China is increasing its support for biomedical R&D by 20 to 30 percent per year, even as we are going down ... Singapore, South Korea, Brazil, Europe, all of those going up in their support, because they see what it can do, while we are basically walking off the stage.” ~ The Honorable Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
“... in cancer, we're seeing cancer survival rates improving each year, deaths dropping by 1 percent per year, year after year after year. ... each 1 percent decrease in cancer is estimated by economists to save our country $500 billion.” ~ The Honorable Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
“... there is not one shred of evidence for a connection between vaccines and autism, and yet that continues to be perpetuated as a possible model, which causes many parents legitimately who have heard about this to wonder whether they should have their children vaccinated. By not doing so, [they] place [their children] at risk of all manner of terrible diseases that we thought were pretty much controlled.” ~ The Honorable Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
“... many economists would say that more than 50 percent of the American economic growth since World War II has been based on science and technology investments, and certainly in the 21st century the highest return – the most vigorous investments we're making are in the biological, the life sciences.” ~ The Honorable Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health