AACU News & Notes

AACU Joins Other Organizations in Urging Support for Defense Health Research Programs

posted: June 19, 2017

On June 8, the AACU joined a group of over 100 organizations spanning across a variety of practice areas in expressing support for the important and highly successful defense health research programs, funded through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) at the Department of Defense (DoD).

Defense Health Research Programs

The CDMRP was started in 1992 with the goal of fostering novel approaches to biomedical research to improve the health and lives of the U.S. military, their families, veterans and the public.  According to their website, “the CDMRP fills research gaps by funding high impact, high risk and high gain projects that other agencies may not venture to fund.”The highly innovative research portfolio supported by the CDMRP fuels scientific discovery by funding high impact research not sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other federal agencies.

Prostate cancer is the second deadliest cancer among American men, and there are more than 1.5 million prostate cancer patients in the U.S. that depend on breakthroughs in research to continue their fight.  Research funded by the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) was responsible for accelerating the development of the two most impactful new treatments for advanced disease in the last four years, bringing them to patients faster than typical development of new drugs. Moreover, the program focuses on not only developing more effective therapeutics but also on improving diagnosis to reduce over treatment and accurately distinguish life-threatening disease from indolent tumors, which is likely to have its greatest impact on active duty servicemen who can be confidently monitored through active surveillance.

Letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Urging Support for FY 2018 Funding of Defense Health Research Programs

The AACU signed letters to Senator Thad Cochran, Senator Richard Durbin, Representative Kay Granger, and Representative Peter Visclosky, as well as the remaining members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, asking for their continued support for the defense health research programs.  The letter touched on the following points:

  • We deeply appreciate the Congressional support received during the FY17 budget process and ask for continued support for the critical and highly successful defense health research programs.
  • Defense health research programs are worthy of continued federal support for the following reasons:
    • The medical research programs at DoD directly impact the health and lives of the U.S. military, their families, veterans and the public.
    • Defense health research program grants neither duplicate nor supplant NIH or VA research efforts, but rather enhance those efforts.
    • While the NIH funds primarily high-quality basic biomedical research, the defense health research programs provide essential emphasis on and support for finding innovative cures or new therapeutics for medical conditions.
    • Each of the separate programs is guided by a specific vision and mission statement, which in addition to incorporating Congressional direction, reflect rapid change in knowledge, address research gaps, and prevent overlaps.
    • While Congress allocates funding through the annual Defense Appropriations Act to specific medical conditions, it does not direct the programs’ dollars to specific researchers.
    • All defense health research programs incorporate the full and equal participation of consumer reviewers at every stage of the multi-tiered review process—a novel and valuable practice in medical research funding.
    • Research activities promote job growth and encourage long-term economic development through innovation.
  • The DoD’s innovative approaches to funding biomedical research have led to a number of significant breakthroughs and achievements, contributing to national security and the health and welfare of U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their dependents.
  • We are concerned about reports that Congress may not complete the fiscal year 2018 appropriations process and instead attempt to pass a long-term continuing resolution.  This approach would have devastating consequences for medical research and will also delay the ability of DoD to most effectively convene programmatic panels to identify and implement programmatic changes and conduct appropriate negotiations to ultimately award FY18 grants.

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