Occasionally, there is news that makes scientists celebrate. Recent surveys have indicated that most Americans are strongly supportive of investments in biomedical and medical research. More than 90 percent of Americans were in favor of governmental funding of this research and a similar enthusiasm was seen for private sector investments.
Biomedical research is focused on advancing health. Fundamental research takes many years to manifest. Clinical research, which is conducted directly on people, can rapidly lead to new therapies, diagnostics and vaccines. Without fundamental research providing new understandings of disease and providing breakthroughs in technology, there would be little to advance to clinical research and health advances would slow.
Overall, 88 percent of Americans were encouraging public and private cooperation to advance research. This would involve partnerships between universities, government agencies and industry working together to advance research. And here is some advice for President Trump: 65 percent of people supported biomedical research as a priority for him, and 78 percent felt that this should be a priority for Congress. There is almost universal support for biomedical research. Many understand that biomedical research represents the future of medicine.
At the government level, the news is not as cheery. Support for biomedical research funding has been eroding in recent years. The federal government funds the National Institutes of Health at a level that represents less than $100 per American — a 20 percent decline in the ability to support innovative research since 2003.
Support for biomedical research is an investment that has paid off. The life expectancy in the United States has risen by over eight years. Deaths from leading causes are down, including cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Quality of life is improving. We have new theories for addiction, improved hearing aids, effective drugs for hepatitis C disease, improved cancer therapies that are extending lives and many other things.
Investment in biomedical research is also good for business and the economy. It is estimated that federal investment in fundamental research brings additional private investment at a return of greater than 8-to-1. Investment in clinical research brings a rapid investment of an additional $2.40 for each dollar spent on research. Overall this has meant $60 billion in new economic activity, which led to over 350,000 jobs in 2015. One specific example of the impact of research leading to new treatments is that post-menopausal therapy resulted in over $37 billion of net economic gain due to the healthier population. Health research pays off.
Texas receives more than $1 billion in funding from the NIH. This represents only 3 percent of the total of NIH funds, while the Texas population represents about 8.5 percent of the U.S. population. Texas scientists and universities need to receive additional funding for biomedical research. Current NIH funding provides over 2,600 grants, and 75 percent of the federal funding goes to health-related universities across the state. This translates to business growth with more than 4,800 bioscience businesses providing more than 81,000 jobs. Biomedical research is an economic engine in the state that benefits Texas’ residents.
Medical Discovery News is hosted by professors Norbert Herzog at Quinnipiac University and David Niesel of the University of Texas Medical Branch. Learn more at medicaldiscoverynews.com.