Feb 22, 2016
The Congressional spending bill for fiscal year 2016 (FY2016), passed in December 2015, included the largest increase in annual funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in over a decade. This increased federal funding for biomedical research was a hard-earned win for the cancer community and ASCO’s advocacy community.
After years of efforts from ASCO’s volunteer leadership, ACT Network advocates, and the broad biomedical research community, Congress acknowledged the importance of providing the NIH with the necessary funding and the crucial role of federally funded research in making continued progress against cancer.
“With this legislation, our nation recommitted itself to sustaining the remarkable progress we’ve achieved for people living with cancer,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FASCO. “By granting the National Institutes of Health its largest funding increase in more than a decade, Congress acknowledged that federally backed research has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on American lives.”
ASCO’s advocacy community played an active role in pressing Congress towards this important achievement. In 2015 alone, ASCO advocates sent 1,062 messages on NIH funding to Members of Congress through ASCO’s ACT Network, and ASCO held 373 meetings with lawmakers to discuss the issue.
Federal research funding was a key focus of ASCO volunteer advocates in Washington. Seventy member advocates held meetings with lawmakers in 2015 about the importance of increasing NIH funding. Several Hill Days, including ASCO’s Government Relations Committee Annual Capitol Hill Day, were held with Members of Congress and Congressional staff to bring attention to and urge Congress to take action on this important issue. These 2015 statistics represent just 1 year of advocacy that has been ongoing for many years.
ASCO leadership also lent their voices to the call for increased federal research funding through media statements urging lawmakers to reinvest in the nation’s commitment to cancer research. Comments and testimony from ASCO leaders were also sent to Congress throughout the process of creating and passing the FY2016 spending bill. Additionally, a November op-ed in The Hill by ASCO President Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, and a Research!America blog post by Dr. Schilsky, both called for bold action by Congress to increase spending for NIH and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in FY2016 to counteract years of stagnant and low funding levels.
To further persuade Congress to take action on federal research funding, ASCO joined together with coalitions within the biomedical community, including One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC), the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research (AAMR), the Non-Defense Discretionary Coalition, and the National Coalition for Cancer Research (NCCR). ASCO also joined the broad coalition of participants in the annual Rally for Medical Research Hill Day.
While this is a significant milestone for the cancer community, ASCO’s advocacy community will continue to work to keep investment in cancer a national priority.
Find all ASCO in Action stories about federal research funding online.