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Jackie S.
Democrat CA 14

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  • The Decline in U.s. Research

    by Representative Jackie Speier

    Posted on 2013-12-11

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    SPEIER. Mr. Speaker, tonight we are going to discuss the National Institutes of Health.



    In many respects, the National Institutes of Health is the goose that keeps laying the golden eggs, the golden eggs that help cure many of the maladies that many Americans suffer from, the goose that lays the golden eggs that create jobs, the goose that lays the golden eggs that help us bring down the cost of health care. But we are at the brink, we are at the tipping point of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    Let's put it in perspective. Not so long ago, then-President George Bush was part of a bipartisan effort to double the funding for the National Institutes of Health. It was $21 billion. Doubling of the resources for the NIH was extraordinary and received with great fanfare and appreciation because there was so much that the researchers were ready to do with that money.

    What have we done since then? Since then, in 2003 dollars, we have seen a gross decline in the money to fund the National Institutes of Health. Now it is down to the equivalent of $17 billion. So for the next hour, we are going to talk about what that means to every American who is suffering from a cancer, for every American that is suffering with a chronic disease like diabetes, for every American who is suffering from Alzheimer's and whose family is trying to cope with it.

    Former Republican Senator and Majority Leader Bill Frist recently wrote: When Alzheimer's is cured, when HIV is cured, when MS is cured, I want it to be America that discovers the breakthroughs and shares it with the world.

    I agree with Dr. Frist. I want to see that happen too. I would like to think that every Member in this House wants to see that too, but it is not going to happen if we keep starving the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    Let me read you another quote: Whenever you hear about a research breakthrough in anything to do with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, influenza, whatever, in the United States, it's extremely likely that NIH supported that effort.

    That was Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health who made that statement. He also doesn't mince words. Recently, in response to sequester cuts to the NIH budget, he said: I think we'll no longer be the world leader in the production of science, technology, and innovation. You can't look at the curves and say, Oh, well, it'll be fine, if we stay on this track. It will not be. China is coming up so fast, they are so convinced that this is their pathway towards world leadership; they're not going to slow down.

    He recently recounted a trip that he took to China in 2011 where he was taken on a tour of a former shoe factory. You need to know a little bit about the history of Dr. Francis Collins. He is called the ``father of the human genome project.'' He and a number of other scientists are responsible for absolutely unlocking DNA sequencing. So he was invited to China to see what they were doing.

    He was taken to this old shoe factory, except it is not a shoe factory anymore. Inside that factory were 3,000 scientists who were focused on sequencing the human genome and the medical and economic potential of this technology. In fact, the capacity at that one factory is more than all of the genome sequencing centers in the United States.

    Dr. Collins said to me with great sadness, Within 3 to 5 years, China will eclipse us.

    Mind you, we have invested billions and billions of dollars in unlocking the human genome with the intent of seeing great strides made; but we are on the verge, we are at the tipping point of seeing this all come to a screeching halt if we continue to ignore the fact that we are starving the NIH.

    Here is an interesting chart. This shows how much R&D spending is going on around the world. China from 2012 to 2013 had an increase of 15 percent.

    {time} 1745 Germany, up 5 percent, Japan up 5 percent, South Korea up 5 percent, Canada down 3 percent, the United States down 5 percent.

    This says it all. If we don't want to see the outsourcing of medicine in this country, the outsourcing of science in this country, we have got a huge wake-up call that we must listen to.

    [[Page H7676]] I am joined this evening by my good friend from San Diego, Scott Peters, who I want to engage with him and have him speak a little bit to this issue as well. I yield to the gentleman from California (Mr. Peters).

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