Advocacy organizations for dozens of conditions, medical professionals and students, and people living with cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s and other diseases gathered this week in Washington, DC, to ask legislators to make funding for medical research a national priority.

Organized by American Association for Cancer Research, this was the fifth annual Rally for Medical Research, which calls on policymakers to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and aims to raise awareness that investment in biomedical research leads to “more progress, more hope and more lives saved.”

Participants in the national day of action descended on Capitol Hill to ask their representatives and senators to support—or thank them for supporting—generous research funding.

As the New York Times recently reported, legislators from both parties rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to deeply cut the NIH. In fact, “lawmakers from both parties have joined forces to increase spending on biomedical research—and have bragged about it.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved a bipartisan bill that provides $36.1 billion in NIH funding for the next fiscal year, while the House Appropriations Committee offered a $1.1 billion increase, according to the New York Times. Legislators expect that the final amount will be closer to the higher Senate figure. 

The House and Senate are racing to complete the 2019 appropriations process by the end of the current fiscal year on September 30, but most Capitol Hill watchers predict that this is unlikely to happen, requiring temporary stopgap measures.

Leading national cancer organizations, including the American Association of Clinical Oncology, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkDamon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer​, as well as dozens of advocacy groups for specific cancers and major cancer centers across the country, took part in the day of action, emphasizing the need for increased funding to realize the promise of recent developments in precision medicine and immunotherapy.

HIV/AIDS advocacy groups, including AIDS United, amfAR and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), also took part. Although HIV is comparatively well funded on a per capita basis, advocates emphasize that HIV research continues to advance our understanding of other conditions. 

Looking beyond the NIH, HIVMA and the Infectious Diseases Society of America called attention to the need for more funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address the ongoing surge in sexually transmitted infections. Likewise, the American Association for the Study of the Liver expressed concern that the proposed budget does not include a significant increase for the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, given the spike in viral hepatitis cases resulting from the opioid epidemic.

Those who did not take part in the Rally for Medical Research in Washington can still participate by contacting their representatives and adding their voice to the call for increased funding for biomedical research and health care.

Click here to learn more