Adam.Mohrbacher@IASLC.org | 720-598-1943
IASLC Condemns President Trump’s Proposed Cuts to the National Institutes of Health
Budget Cuts Would Devastate Future Scientific Progress in Lung Cancer Research
DENVER – The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) strongly condemns the budget proposal released by the Trump administration last week, specifically the startling cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The budget “blueprint” outlines reducing NIH funding by $5.8 billion dollars, a reduction of nearly 20%.
Such a reduction would have devastating consequences on the state of scientific and medical research throughout the United States. Only a small portion of the agency’s annual budget is spent on administrative costs or supporting the work of government scientists. In fact, over 80% of the agency’s funding goes towards supporting research conducted in universities and medical centers throughout the country.  Complicating matters further is that the NIH provides this funding primarily through multi-year grant awards, meaning that this money has already been promised to scientists and researchers and cannot be easily reallocated. A budget cut of 20% would essentially cripple the agency’s ability to award new grants while dramatically slowing the development of novel, life-saving medical treatments for diseases like lung cancer.
“In the last decade, basic and translational research has resulted in many new drug approvals in lung cancer and is dramatically improving the quantity and quality of life in our patients,” said Dr. David P. Carbone, President of the IASLC, Barbara J. Bonner Chair in Lung Cancer Research and Director, Thoracic Oncology Center at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. “We should be increasing our investment in research to optimize these therapies and develop new ones. Cutting federal research funding at this time will harm thousands of U.S. citizens with this disease, which is by far the number one cause of cancer death in the USA and worldwide.”
Robust funding for lung cancer research is critical due to unique aspects of the disease. Not only is lung cancer wildly prevalent across all populations, but it is most commonly diagnosed in later stages, making it significantly less treatable. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 160,000 people died from lung cancer in the United States in 2016, and almost 225,000 new cases were diagnosed. Worldwide, approximately 1.6 million people die from lung cancer each year, more than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.
Yet the disease is also no longer a death sentence. Major scientific advances are beginning to move the needle on morbidity rates, and groundbreaking treatments are starting to improve the quality of life for patients throughout the country and the world. Some of these include immunotherapies, which use the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells, and personalized medicines, which utilize drugs specific to each patient’s cancer tumor.
With lung cancer research beginning to offer such dramatic potential, the Administration’s budget proposal is frankly unacceptable. It fails to make the necessary commitments to advancing the cause of public health, an effort that should transcend political party and one that affects every citizen regardless of age, ideology, location, ethnicity or class. The IASLC is committed to advancing the study and treatment of lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies – both here in the United States and around the world. We ask that you join with us in sending a message loud and clear to Congress that President Trump’s harmful budget cuts to agencies like the NIH will not be tolerated.
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 Varmus, H. (2017, March 22). Why Trump’s N.I.H. Cuts Should Worry Us. Retrieved March 22, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/opinion/why-trumps-nih-cuts-should-worry-us.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0
 International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. (2016, March 21). Retrieved March 22, 2017, from https://www.iaslc.org/lung-cancer-fact-sheet-2016-north-america