Schakowsky Remarks on Federal Investment in Research

November 30, 2012
Press Release

The importance of federal investment in research cannot be overemphasized. Our investment in research, including through the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Science Foundation, saves lives, improves health, and increases our understanding of the world that we live in.  Grants to research institutions, including Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Loyola University in the Chicago metropolitan area, not only help to make medical progress but train our next generation of scientists.

Biomedical research funded by the National Institutes of Health has made a real difference in the health and lives of millions of Americans. The outcomes of those research efforts speak volumes. Anti-viral therapies for HIV have been developed that make it possible for HIV-infected individuals to live into their 70s and beyond as compared to a life expectancy of just months when the disease first appeared in the 1980s. New treatments and procedures have been developed for Age-Related Macular Degeneration that will allow hundreds of thousands of Americans to continue to have useful vision over the next five years. Researchers have identified a treatment that could reduce premature birth by 45% among at-risk women.  

Public health research sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps us prevent and contain disease outbreaks. As we transition from a health care system focused on the treatment of disease to a system based on disease prevention, we will increasingly rely on public health research to identify new prevention techniques and interventions that help keep people healthy. For example, the CDC has established a research grant program to help develop and test new ways to combat healthcare-associated infections - infections that harm patients and increase health care costs. Through this initiative, the CDC awarded a grant to the Chicago Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention Epicenter, a collaboration between the Cook County Health and Hospitals System and Rush University Medical Center, to research strategies for antimicrobial resistance and infection prevention.

The funding of basic research in fields such as chemistry, engineering, physics, and computers by the National Science Foundation has led to discoveries and technological advances that have been truly revolutionary.  NSF-funded researchers have decoded the genetics of viruses and created an entirely new state of matter.  NSF-funded research is also enhancing our understanding of the link between brain health and overall human health.

These examples merely scratch the surface of federally-funded research discoveries and only hint at the promise of our continued investment in research.  We can imagine the possibilities - a cure for HIV/AIDS, the elimination of health disparities, or the end of Alzheimer's disease.  If we don't stop the sequester cuts, which include budget cuts of $2.5 billion to NIH, $586 million to NSF, and $490 million to CDC, or any other cuts, these discoveries could be severely delayed or even worse never become reality.  We can't allow that.  We must avert these cuts and replace them with a balanced approach that continues our investment in research.