The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Peter M. Grollman, vice president of CHOP’s Office of Government Affairs, Community Relations, and Advocacy recently penned a powerful editorial on Philly.com arguing that tepid government support for medical researchers demands a personal response from voters.
“You, too, may be counting on a cure some day. That’s why it’s personal,” Grollman notes.
Children’s Hospital’s Office of Government Affairs, Community Relations, and Advocacy works “to support the Hospital, the Research Institute, and the entire CHOP health network in its goals of excellent patient care, innovative research and quality professional education.” To further CHOP’s mission of improving the health of children everywhere, the Office partners with community members, advocates on behalf of pediatric medical research, and develops relationships with members of government.
Grollman’s editorial — in which he notes family struggles with Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and Lou Gehrig’s Disease — comes at a time when support for the NIH (which funds most medical research in the United States) has flattened. Though the agency’s funding may seem impressive — in the 2015 budget the agency is allotted $30.2 billion — that number is misleading. Adjusted for inflation, the 2015 budget is about $100 million lower than the 2002 level.
Despite clear evidence showing that robust federal support for biomedical research leads to findings that can improve the health of patients in unexpected ways, government support for medical research continues to be lukewarm. “Research conducted in CHOP’s labs has discovered cures for certain types of congenital blindness and childhood leukemia,” Grollman notes, adding that such “great news should invigorate our government leaders to invest even more in the NIH.”
However, the reaction to success stories like those seen at CHOP “appears to be just the opposite: complacency. To date, the response to the empirical evidence in creating medical breakthroughs has been nothing short of unacceptable,” Grollman writes. “According to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report, after adjusting for inflation, funding for the NIH decreased 22 percent over the past decade.”
Therefore, Grollman calls on voters to make the issue personal.
“When funding for medical research is diminished, we are all impacted. We must respond. We need to move the discussion from our homes to the halls of government, where the personal interests and futures of Americans have been discussed and considered for generations,” he says.