Medical Research

Biomedical research is our strongest tool for preventing and curing the serious illnesses that affect our population. I have, therefore, always been a strong advocate for expanding the federal support of biomedical research within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other government agencies. Enabling researchers to develop cures and more effective remedies for such diseases as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Parkinson's is an important way to reach our goal of advancing health care and making medical innovation more widely available and affordable to the public.

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the focal point for biomedical research funded by the federal government. The NIH plays a crucial role in supporting basic and clinical research and development programs at leading research institutions worldwide. I champion this public/private research partnership, which has allowed the United States to maintain its position as the world leader in medical technology.

The NIH is comprised of 17 biomedical research institutes and centers, each focusing on particular illnesses or internal systems of the body. Among these 17 organizations are:



Numerous debilitating diseases affect millions of Americans each year and cost our country dearly in the way of human suffering. For this reason, I supported a Sense of the Senate Amendment in 1997 that doubled the budget of the NIH over a period of five years. I also supported a $3 billion increase in funding for the NIH for the 2002 fiscal year (FY), setting total funding for the NIH at $23.3 billion. Additionally, I am pleased that the President's proposed FY 2003 budget keeps our promise to double the NIH budget over five years, raising it from $13.6 billion in 1998 to $27.2 billion in 2003. I am committed to working tirelessly to protect NIH funding and its ability to develop new cures, giving new hope to those Americans suffering from chronic and fatal illnesses.

Visit the NIH website to learn more about the NIH and its progams.

For a complete list of NIH agencies and offices, click here.

Cancer

There are few among us without a close relative, loved one, or friend who has been afflicted by this terrible disease. I am working with my colleagues in Congress to reduce mortality rates for all types of cancer, and to improve the quality of life for patients undergoing cancer treatments. The most effective way of doing this is ensuring that the government spends sizeable resources on biomedical research, so that we can understand more about the pathology of the disease and study the efficacy of cancer treatments.

I have long supported the efforts of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a research institute within the NIH that conducts and supports basic applied research in cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. The NCI also provides training support for research scientists, clinicians, and educators, and maintains a national network of cancer centers, clinical cooperative groups, community oncology programs, and outreach programs. In fiscal year (FY) 2002, Congress appropriated $4.19 billion for the NCI, and I am pleased that the President's proposed FY 2003 budget increases NCI funding by another $501.4 million. The government has also funded cancer research programs within the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct important research into the causes of and potential cures for prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers. I approved of appropriations for this purpose.

In 1997, I was a cosponsor of legislation to create a special postage stamp raising money for breast cancer research. This fundraising mechanism, which was implemented in 1998, has been extremely successful. By allowing Americans to purchase these special breast cancer research stamps at a cost above the standard rate for first class postage, this program provides NIH and the DoD breast cancer research programs with an essential source of funding. In 2001, I cosponsored legislation to reauthorize this important program through 2003, an effort that was ultimately successful. Lastly, I also cosponsored the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, which would have provided additional Medicaid funding to the states to treat lower-income women who have been diagnosed with these cancers.

Cancer is a disease that does not differentiate between gender, race, or geography. It is a disease against which all Americans must stand united. I remain confident that with strong federal policies to encourage increased biomedical research and the widespread availability of cancer treatments, it is truly a threat that we can eliminate in this new century.

Lyme Disease

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of Lyme Disease in Pennsylvania ranked fourth highest in the nation between 1990 and 1999. Lyme Disease is an illness spread by deer ticks that initially affects the skin. If left untreated, the disease can spread to the joints, nervous system, and other organs. Though most cases can be successfully treated with antibiotics if caught early enough, some long-lasting symptoms, such as persistent arthritis or nerve abnormalities, do rarely occur.

There is currently no reliable diagnostic tests for chronic Lyme Disease, making diagnosis and treatment very challenging for physicians. Lyme Disease research has directly benefitted from Congress's efforts to increase funding at the National Institutes of Health, but a lack of coordination and proper funding at the CDC have left many questions unanswered.

For these reasons, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of Lyme and Infectious Disease Information and Fairness in Treatment (LIIFT) Act. The LIIFT Act will establish a two-year public health management plan authorizing $43 million to improve the diagnostic detection, and reduce the prevalence, of Lyme Disease. This legislation will also establish a Tick-borne Advisory Committee within the Department of Health and Human Services in order to coordinate current and future funding efforts and develop concrete policy goals for addressing Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. The Committee's membership, representing scientists, clinicians, non-profit organizations, and the public will give a voice to Lyme Disease patients who are often unheard.

I will continue to work in Congress to help those at risk for Lyme Disease, but I urge all Pennsylvanians to be especially vigilant during periods of warmer weather. Studies show that it usually takes 36 to 48 hours for a tick to actually transmit Lyme Disease, which is why it is so important for people who have been outdoors in the yard or the woods to check themselves regularly for ticks or tick bites, and seek medical attention if necessary.

To learn more about Lyme Disease, check out the following websites:



Cloning and Stem Cell Research

Few policy issues in recent memory have occasioned greater moral and ethical debate than the issues of embryonic stem cell research and "therapeutic" cloning. Sincere and thoughtful voices have weighed in on both sides of the discussion; some tout the scientific advances such research may provide, others raise objections that no advances can justify the destruction of young human life. I have consistently and proudly been an advocate for the sanctity of all human life throughout this debate.

When President Bush announced his decision on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, he did his best on this very difficult issue to defend and support human life, while also advancing medical science to help those with debilitating diseases. Despite the fact that he put together the best possible compromise, I do not think this is an area for compromise. I agree more with the President's statement on human cloning that it is not acceptable under any circumstances. Though no federal funds will go for the actual destruction of human life, under President Bush's plan, research will benefit from the previous destruction of human life, and that is not something I can support. I must respectfully disagree with any taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research.

I recently joined my colleague, Senator John Ensign, to introduce the Responsible Stem Cell Research Act. Our bill would increase funding for adult stem cell research by $275 million next year, approximately 50 percent above the current level. This legislation would also establish a National Stem Cell Donor Bank, to generate a source of adult stem cells which would be available for treatment, biomedical research, and other clinical purposes. Our bill aggressively funds and develops promising medical research without relying on harvested embryonic stem cells. In addition to the Ensign bill, I proudly cosponsored the Human Cloning Prohibition Act. I believe that the cloning of human embryos is simply morally unacceptable, and I support this legislation that would prohibit any person or organization from cloning human embryos through somatic cell transfer techniques. Violators would be subject to a fine and up to ten years' imprisonment.

While I support the advancement of science, I have many reservations and concerns regarding research upon, and the cloning of, human embryos, especially when the alternative of adult stem cell research is widely seen as promising and morally acceptable. I will do my best to make sure that our government strongly supports the promise of medical discovery, while ensuring that it will not violate or degrade the value of human life.




More Health Care Information:

Quality of Care
Access to Care
Health Care Home



United States Senate | 511 Dirksen Senate Office Building | Washington DC | 20510 | Phone: (202) 224-6324