In the United States, stroke is a leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability. Thankfully, the methods of treatment, diagnosis, and rehabilitative therapy available to stroke survivors today are significantly better than those available to survivors in previous generations. The improved tools and techniques are largely due to key investments made into long term medical research projects, particularly by the federal government. Congress is poised to increase investments in medical research, but the legislative standstill in both chambers threatens this scenario.
The bulk of federally funded medical research in the U.S. is either conducted by or administered through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Within the NIH, there are two funding priorities for brain- and stroke-related research; the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. NINDS performs a large portion of the federal brain- and stroke-related research as well as provide grants to states, nonprofits, universities, and private sector partners to pursue additional research projects. Research at NINDS has already been successful and resulted in more effective treatments for stroke. The BRAIN Initiative was proposed by the Obama administration in 2013 as a collective research effort to map the human brain. Through the initiative’s discoveries, future researchers and medical professionals will be able to develop new methods to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate stroke survivors.
Unfortunately, next year’s funding for NIH, NINDS, and the BRAIN Initiative is stuck in legislative limbo on Capitol Hill. Since President Obama released his budget request in March 2014, Congress has slowly labored through the federal funding process. At this point, Congress is behind schedule to pass all 12 funding bills before the new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2014. The Senate began to consider medical research funding by releasing draft legislation and holding a subcommittee hearing. The Senate’s bill increases the NIH’s budget by 1.2% to $30.5 billion. Within the NIH budget, NINDS’ funding level is $1.61 billion; an increase of $20 million over this year’s funding level. The BRAIN Initiative’s funding level was also increased by 150% in the Senate’s bill; receiving $100 million. In an environment of fiscal restraint, the Senate is still willing to make additional investments into medical research. The House of Representatives has not considered funding for the stroke community’s medical research priorities, but National Stroke Association will encourage them to follow the Senate’s example.
Once members of Congress return from their month long recess in August, they will have a few legislative days left to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. Congress will likely use a short term funding bill to keep the government, and medical research, running after October 1. Short term funding bills like this keep the government funded at the previous year’s funding levels for a few months or weeks. Take action today to protect funding for NIH, NINDS, and the BRAIN Initiative.
On Sept. 18, we’re joining forces with advocates from over 300 organizations to support the largest Rally for Medical research to date. You can join this nationwide effort, the Rally for Medical Research, by participating in our Advocate Call-in Day on Sept. 18. Your actions will help ensure that advancements in stroke prevention, diagnosis and treatment can continue.
What is the Rally For Medical Research? On Sept. 18, a broad range of organizations will meet with House and Senate offices on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to support adequate funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The timing of this effort is particularly important because the federal government’s fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. That means a new funding mechanism for the government will need to be in place prior to Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown. Advocates will arrive in Washington, D.C., as the budget debate is heating up, ensuring that funding NIH’s research is an integral part of the budget negotiations.
How can I participate? Because many stroke survivors can’t travel to Washington, D.C. for this event, we’re holding an Advocate Call-in Day on Sept 18. The purpose of this effort is to support the advocates who are on Capitol Hill by delivering the same message to your members of Congress. We’ll provide you with all the information and tools to contact your members of Congress and deliver a pro-medical research message to them. You can enhance this advocacy effort by adding your story to this message. As someone who has been impacted by stroke, you’re an example of why the work NIH does is so critical!
Why is supporting medical research funding important? The medical research done by NIH is vital to the stroke community. NIH conducts research on various diseases and conditions, including stroke, primarily through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). NINDS does important research in the areas of stroke prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. A reduction in research dollars can mean a missed opportunity to discover a prevention or treatment option that could make a difference in patients’ lives. Securing adequate funding for NINDS will ensure that critical breakthroughs in these areas will one day reduce the rate of stroke and the impact stroke has on the daily lives of survivors, caregivers, and family members.
We know that the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke performs a large portion of brain and stroke-related research as well as provides grants for additional medical research projects for states, nonprofits, universities, and private sector partners. Here’s a breakdown of where those grant dollars go at the state level.
Top 5 NINDS Award Recipients by Location:
California: 474 projects $159,903,765
New York: 300 projects $95,272,062
Massachusetts: 272 projects $96,198,366
Pennsylvania: 179 projects $61,472,447
Texas: 146 projects $44,314,335