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Senator Barbara A. Mikulski Says Shortchanging NIH Stalls Critical Medical Discoveries

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

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 Senator Mikulski is fighting once again for NIH funding.
 

"We Need to Have Both the Will and the Wallet."

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) criticized President Bush’s underfunding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at a press conference at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) on March 18. The President’s fiscal year 2009 budget provides the NIH with $29.5 billion – flat funded at the fiscal year 2008 level. This will mean fewer advances in research, fewer scientists entering the field, and a reduction in America’s global competitiveness.

"I am so proud of the amazing work our labs and universities are doing, saving lives and making new discoveries every day. But you are not getting the federal investment you need. NIH needs adequate resources to meet its mission," said Senator Mikulski. "We’re turning off the spigot to our own future. Cuts to NIH funding slow down our transition from science to treatment. We need to have both the will and the wallet."

Senator Mikulski received a briefing from Dr. William J. Weiner, professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, on the newest developments and research on Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Weiner, who is also Chief of Neurology at UMMC and Director of the University of Maryland Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center, is a nationally recognized leader in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.
 
The University of Maryland Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center offers the highest level of comprehensive diagnostic, medical, surgical and rehabilitative services for patients with Parkinson’s disease, and has specific outpatient and inpatient therapy programs. The center is involved in numerous clinical trials examining potential new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, which affects about one million people in the United States. 

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski has a long history of fighting for adequate NIH funding. This includes a bipartisan effort to double the NIH budget from $13.6 billion in fiscal year 1998 to $27 billion in fiscal year 2003. Last week, Senate Democrats increased NIH funding by $2.1 billion in the fiscal year 2009 budget resolution.

"Increased funding for NIH means more money to fund research and clinical trials so we can continue to make discoveries that will save lives today and tomorrow," said Senator Mikulski. "I will keep up my fight to make sure NIH gets the federal investment it needs."

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 Mikulski with medical school dean E. Albert Reece (third from left); Neurolgy faculty (from left) William Weiner, M.D., Walter Royal, M.D., Cha-Min Tang, M.D., PhD, Samir Jafri, PhD, Lisa Shulman, M.D.; and UMMC President/CEO Jeff Rivest.