Rep. Higgins Joins RPCI, UB, HWI Leaders to Underscore Damaging Effects of Cuts to Medical Research

Gathering tied in with national Rally for Medical Research highlights $120 million in local impacts of sequestration
Monday, April 8, 2013

BUFFALO, NY — Today, thousands of advocates from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to rally in support of medical research funding. The crowd in the nation’s capital included some 50 researchers from Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), the only comprehensive cancer center in New York state outside Manhattan.

Locally, leaders of three leading medical research institutions in the Buffalo Niagara region — RPCI, the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute Inc. (HWI) and the University at Buffalo (UB) — joined with U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins to raise awareness about the local impact of sequestration and gathered to view live online streaming video of the Rally for Medical Research in Washington.

Federal funding for medical research continues to decline, threatening the future health of Americans. The Rally has united millions of Americans across the country to raise awareness about the critical need for a sustained investment in the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies that improve health, spur more progress, inspire more hope and save more lives.

“Building health-related research is not like building an interstate highway system,” notes Eaton Lattman, Executive Director of HWI. “Once the capital expense for roadways has been made, maintenance is cheaper. In research, we are always in the construction phase, setting out in new directions with brand-new ideas, technologies and equipment.”

More than $120 million in federal medical research funding is awarded annually to these three leading Buffalo Niagara research institutions. According to Francis Collins, MD, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), every NIH grant supports seven high-quality jobs, but the current threat will impact not only jobs but also the development of new drugs, devices and tools that these scientists are on the verge of discovering.

“Sequestration budget cuts will have a devastating effect on training programs in UB professional schools — on physicians, dentists and pharmacists — because many students rely on federal support to have the opportunity for professional training,” says Timothy F. Murphy, MD, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at UB’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “I am also very concerned about the effect that budget cuts will have on our ability to train the next generation of biomedical researchers. Training researchers is critical for us to develop better and more cost effective healthcare. An environment without adequate support for research will drive trainees away from careers in biomedical research.”

RPCI is one of more than 200 partnering organizations participating in the Rally for Medical Research in Washington. The NIH, the federal agency that allocates grants for medical research, is the largest source of funding for research in the world and has been the force behind many decades of advances that have improved the health of people in every corner of America.

“This is probably the most exciting time in science, with the knowledge of the human genome and the dawn of personalized medicine,” said Donald L. Trump, MD, RPCI President and CEO. “But these cuts threaten that progress and dash hopes for millions of Americans.”

The NIH faces a $1.6 billion cut this year from the budget reductions known as sequestration. More than 80 percent of the budget is awarded through extramural funding to research institutions across the country. These impacts will be felt in communities across the country.

“The only failure in research is when you quit or are forced to quit due to lack of funding,” Congressman Higgins says. “First and foremost medical research saves lives, a priceless gift for families touched by disease, and still medical discovery serves the dual outcome of finding more cost effective treatments and reducing health care costs overall.”

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

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The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

With more than 50 years of exceptional scientific research, the Hauptman-Woodward Institute is an internationally-renowned independent, non-profit facility specializing in life-altering research. Our team of more than 75 members is committed to improving human health through the study of the causes of diseases, as well as potential therapies, at their fundamental molecular level. HWI is located in the heart of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in Downtown Buffalo, New York, in a state-of-the-art structural biology research center at 700 Ellicott Street. For more information, visit HWI’s website at www.hwi.buffalo.edu or call 716-898-8600.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org