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Funding Research to Deliver Life-Saving Cures

April 11, 2016
Press Release
Op-Ed Written by Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-01)

In the 21st Century, we must boldly advance our research to create the next generation of cures and deliver hope to those suffering from various diseases, both rare and wide spread.

Cancer, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Kidney Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis are just some of the many diseases that touch all of our lives, however, according to the National Institutes of Health, there are currently 10,000 known diseases, with 7,000 of these identified diseases or disorders considered to be “rare.” Rare diseases affect 200,000 people or less, but collectively affect more than 300 million people across the world. Right now, out of all of the identified diseases, there is only a treatment for 500 of them, leaving millions of Americans and their families suffering. 

In Congress, one of my highest priorities is funding research to provide the resources necessary to discover the next generation of treatment and deliver lifesaving or life improving cures.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6), bipartisan legislation that I cosponsor in Congress to improve and modernize our nation’s healthcare. This legislation would accelerate the process for scientific advancement, while providing desperately needed research funding. The 21st Century Cures Act would remove barriers preventing research collaboration, increasing researchers’ access to essential data from previous research and clinical studies. The legislation secures $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which would provide additional research and development resources for Stony Brook University Research Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and other research laboratories right here on Long Island. The legislation would also boost the field of personalized medicine, tailoring treatment to patients’ needs. Among other important aspects of the bill, the 21st Century Cures Act would ensure our region remains a leader in the medical industry field, keeping research jobs here on Long Island. As a key piece of legislation for the health of residents on our island and across the nation, paving the way for healthcare innovation in the United States, we must continue working this year to get the 21st Century Cures Act signed into law.

In bipartisan fashion, Congress successfully secured $32 billion for 2016 to fund the National Institutes of Health, $2 billion above the 2015 level, and $7.2 billion for 2016 to fund the Centers for Disease Control, $300 million above the prior year. In addition to NIH and CDC funding, there are many other ways that Congress can help deliver cures. The Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act (H.R.1197), which I cosponsor, is a bill that supports all efforts to end breast cancer by 2020. Whether funding research for well-known diseases like breast cancer, or rare diseases, such as Sarcoidosis, Tuberous Sclerosis, Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, and Neurofibromatosis, bipartisan progress is essential. The Clinical and Translational Science Awards and Institutional Development Award program are two great examples that come to mind.

There is so much more we can do to develop effective treatments and cures to combat devastating diseases and illnesses. Funding research to deliver life-saving cures must always remain a top priority in Congress and include the resources necessary to advance research technology, education and medical innovation.

Congressman Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York. He is a member of the House Cancer Caucus and Congressional Diabetes Caucus, which both support increased funding for research and development to cure diseases.

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