Science Policy For All

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Science Policy Around the Web – May 26, 2015

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By: Sara Cassidy M.S., Ph.D

photo credit: Matti Mattila via photopin cc

Biomedical Research Funding

21st century cures chugs along

A $13 billion package (HR 6) to spur new medical cures sailed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday (5/21). The non-partisan so-called 21st Century Cures bill, authored by Fred Upton (R-MI), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Joe Pitts (R-PA), Gene Green (D-TX) and Diana DeGette (D-CO), aims to modernize and personalize health care, encourage greater innovation, support research, and streamline the system to deliver better faster cures to more patients. The unanimous 51-0 vote sets up floor consideration for the legislation, which would overhaul how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluates new medical products and provide $10 billion in mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Rep. Pitts remarked, “Today’s vote is an important next step for this committee as we work to get 21st Century Cures enacted into the law by the end of the year. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their hard work to modernize our discovery, development and delivery system, which will give hope to millions of Americans for an accelerated path to cures.” Additional markups to the applauded legislation include, $550 million in mandatory funding to the FDA over five years, a mandate to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to increase the representation of underrepresented minorities in clinical trials, and specific language on research surrounding Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Parallel efforts in the Senate, led by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) are on a much slower timeline, but Rep. Upton had said he thinks the bill could land on the president’s desk before the end of the year. (Melanie Zanona, CQ Roll Call)

Policy Development

OSTP seeks experts to weigh in on microbiome research

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a Request For Information (RFI) on Wednesday (5/20) seeking advice from industry, academia, research laboratories, and other stakeholder groups involved in microbiome research. The goal of the RFI is to identify the unifying questions in microbiome research, as well as the tools, technologies, and training needed to answer these questions. OSTP is specifically looking for information matching the mission statements of multiple Federal agencies, private sector interests, and current White House Policy Initiatives. Due in large part to improved sequencing technologies over the past 10 years, human microbiome studies have exploded onto the research scene, with potential implications in human health in diverse settings such as obesity and cancer. There is currently one FDA approved microbiome based treatment, fecal microbial transplant, for the treatment of relapsing Clostridium difficile infections. However, most of the field is currently stalled in correlative associations with disease and would like to progress to causative or predictive of disease. The OSTP hopes the RFI will result in a focusing of the microbiome research field, potentially harnessing its therapeutic capacity. Responses will be accepted until 6/15/15. (American Society for Microbiology, Public Affairs Office)

Legislative policy

Senators create a new caucus specifically for the NIH

Sens. Linsdey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) will co-chair a nascent caucus aimed at boasting funds for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH has lost 25% of its purchasing power since 2003, which the senators attribute to sequestration and flat budgets. The senators believe inadequate funding has stalled the ability of the agency to find cures for some the countries most devastating diseases, like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Despite the fact that many Congress members have recently publicly voiced their support for increasing the NIH budget (including Newt Gingrich and Eric Cantor), paying for it will continue to be an enormous challenge in a political climate where budget cuts and sequestration are de rigeur. And although many are in favor, none have yet proposed a way to pay for it. The other members of the caucus include Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Robert Casey (D-PA), Joe Donnelly (D-ID), Al Franken (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jim Moran (R-KS), Gary Peters (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). (Sarah Ferris, The Hill)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 26, 2015 at 9:00 am

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