DeLauro: Spend more on biomedical research to combat Ebola

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes part of Shelton, is calling for more funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Joined by representatives of the local biomedical research industry on Monday in New Haven, DeLauro said she has introduced the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act to affirm “that biomedical research is an important priority.”

The legislation would allow current budget caps to be adjusted for increased NIH spending, said DeLauro, a Democrat in her 12th term.

“The spread of Ebola in America is on everyone’s minds right now,” DeLauro said. “It can be contained in nations like America that have a strong public health infrastructure.

“But we would be in a better position if we had not cut the NIH’s budget over the last four years,” she said. “Cutting medical research has an incalculable cost, when life-saving discoveries are never made.”

Says NIH budget has been cut

DeLauro said ongoing investment in the biomedical field is necessary. “We have to keep funding the life-saving research that pushes the frontiers of medical science and keeps Americans healthy,” she said.

After adjusting for inflation, the NIH budget has been cut by $3.4 billion (10%) during the past four years, according to DeLauro. Connecticut has been particularly damaged by those cuts, with NIH funding to the state dropping by over 7% during that time, she claimed.

The Accelerating Biomedical Research Act would create a new Budget Control Act cap adjustment for NIH. Any funding provided over $29.9 billion would trigger a budget cap increase to accommodate the additional funding.

The bill would allow appropriations to increase NIH funding by 10% for the first two years and 5% each year thereafter. A coalition of more than 100 advocacy groups and research institutions support the bill, DeLauro said.

Pharmaceutical firm founder is ' concerned’

Craig Crews, founder and chief scientific advisor at the New Haven-based Arvinas pharmaceutical firm, agreed with DeLauro.

“For the past 17 years, the NIH has generously supported basic science research in my lab, which has served as the basis for the launch of two biotech companies and a FDA-approved anti-cancer drug,” Crews said.

“While past federal support was been crucial for these successes, I am concerned that decreased NIH support in the past few years is negatively impacting the basic research that is needed now for the discovery of future drugs necessary to address important public health issues such as obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.