Feb. 18, 2014

Excited About Funding Increases? Not So fast.

By Kim Cantor, Vice President, Advocacy and Government Relations, Lupus Foundation of America

On January 17, 2014, the Lupus Foundation of America reported that Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. The bill provides funding for vital lupus research and education programs.  Successes include: $5.5 million for the National Lupus Patient Registry, the largest and most comprehensive epidemiological study on lupus; $200 million for the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) in which lupus researchers  can compete for research funding; $2 million for The Lupus Initiative, aimed to educate doctors and other health professionals about lupus; and, $29.9 billion, a $1 billion increase, for The National Institutes of Health (NIH).

While this funding brings some good news in the fight against lupus, the Act only restores some of the money to the NIH that was previously cut through the automatic spending reductions (sequestration).  The NIH funds most lupus research, and years of little to no funding increases, tied with sequestration, damaged progress in lupus research and biomedical research.

new analysis issued by the Federation for American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a leading policy voice for scientists and researchers, shows just how far NIH funding has fallen over the years.  The analysis shows that in 2013, research grants awarded by the NIH fell to the lowest level in 15 years.  In addition, when adjusted for inflation, the NIH budget was 22.4 percent less than it was ten years ago. The NIH also issued 20.3 percent fewer competing research grants and the number of awards supporting investigator-initiated research fell by 34 percent. 

What does this all mean for lupus and lupus research?  It means competition for federal research dollars is tougher than ever.  Lupus research and its hard working scientists are fighting even harder for scarce research dollars. 

The Foundation is the strongest patient advocacy organization voice for securing vital research funds for lupus research and programs, but we can’t do it alone.  It is the personal story and the voice of a lupus activist that propels Congress into action.  Write your Senators and Representative today insisting funding lupus research and programs are a priority!

Thank you in advance for sharing your lupus story with members of Congress to bring greater attention and resource to the fight against lupus.  The Foundation is more committed than ever to ensure lupus research and programs are fully funded.  These funds will help meet the urgent needs of the 1.5 million Americans who live with this unpredictable and misunderstood disease.

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