Alexander Tells Cancer Researchers in Memphis: Congress Just Delivered $2 Billion Increase for Medical Research for 2nd Consecutive Year

Posted on May 5, 2017

MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 5, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told cancer researchers in Memphis that Congress just delivered a $2 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the second consecutive year.

“This bill provides a major boost for programs like the ‘Cancer Moonshot’ to speed cancer research and the Precision Medicine Initiative to develop treatments and cures tailored to a patient’s genome,” Senate health committee Chairman Alexander said. “This legislation helps deliver on the promise of the 21st Century Cures Act – which was the most important legislation of the last Congress according to Majority Leader McConnell – by delivering a boost of funding for the National Institutes of Health, or as Dr. Francis Collins calls it, the National Institutes of Hope.”

“The ‘Cancer Moonshot’ presents a great opportunity to help better diagnose and treat Americans in rural areas who’ve been diagnosed with this awful disease,” Alexander said.  “By better coordinating cancer research and improving researchers’ and doctors’ access to data, the ‘Cancer Moonshot’ will help ensure that patients in rural areas can benefit from the remarkable research being done at big cancer hospitals like St. Jude’s here in Memphis, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, as well as Sloan-Kettering, Dana-Farber, and MD Anderson.”

Additional funding for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and the BRAIN Initiative was authorized by Congress in last year’s 21st Century Cures Act sponsored by Senator Alexander. The $2 billion increase for the NIH included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill that Congress passed on Thursday supports an increase for the National Cancer Institute of $176 million, and an increase for the Precision Medicine Initiative of $120 million.

“As a result of the Precision Medicine Initiative, the National Cancer Institute has been able to start new clinical trials so we can learn more about genetically targeted therapies for patients, including those that are resistant to treatments,” Alexander said. “Enrolling higher numbers of cancer patients from rural areas in clinical trials will help us better understand cancer in rural populations—and, ultimately, allow doctors to use genomic information to develop better treatments for them.”

The Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill continues delivering on the $352 million innovation fund at NIH authorized by 21st Century Cures that was passed by Congress in December. Specifically, the NIH innovation fund includes $300 million for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, $40 million for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, $10 million for the BRAIN Initiative and $2 million for regenerative medicine using adult stem cells.

Today, Alexander spoke to cancer researchers from Tennessee and across the country at a roundtable hosted by the University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology and the National Cancer Institute. The senator also discussed supporting community health center funding to help rural populations receive the care they need and cosponsoring the ECHO Act, legislation that became law last year to help patients needing specialized treatment for cancer receive that care closer to home from their local doctors. Alexander told the cancer researchers he welcomed their input, as the experts, as he continues his work in the Senate’s health committee.