Presidential Candidate Pledges to Double NIH Budget

Kevin Knopf, MD Health Guide
  • Noteworthy news flash reported in Wired Magazine's science blog: presidential candidate Tommy Thompson (R) pledged to double the NIH budget and eliminate breast cancer by 2015. Mr. Thompson's wife, mother-in-law and daughter have all had breast cancer.


    Sounds like a great idea. A previous SharePost on cancer research funding woes I wrote noted that the NIH budget had been cut by the current administration at a time when the cancer incidence is rising. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the largest of the sub-divisions at the NIH. The NCI is responsible for research grants for many cancer investigators including MDs and PhDs who work in molecular biology laboratories, translational research (between the lab and the clinic), and funding clinical research in community cancer centers such as the one I work at. I wholeheartedly applaud any candidate's desire to double the NIH budget.

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    The "return on investment" of funding the NCI can be fantastic. Research in molecular biology is the true way to make progress in treatment and prevention of cancer - and pays off dividends in years to come. We all expect better and better agents to be introduced for treatment, and the clinical trials that the NCI funds can take years to produce results that change the scope of cancer care. The current funding rate of NCI grants is quite low and this may be a deterrent to young scientists contemplating research careers in cancer - I would certainly like to see a system that encourages careers in cancer research.


    Many of the current candidates should have a reason to support cancer research, and hopefully cancer care - another area where budgetary cuts may be crippling in the next few years. Besides the obvious Senator Edwards (D-NC), Senator McCain (R-AZ) is a cancer survivor (melanoma), former Mayor Guiliani (R) is a prostate cancer survivor, and Fred Thompson (R) is in remission from Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma.


    What would be great would be for all candidates running to adopt Tommy Thompson's proposal - then we can vote on our preferred candidate based on our assessment of their ability to lead and their position on other issues of National and International Importance.

Published On: July 13, 2007