A picture of Representative Janice D. Schakowsky
Janice S.
Democrat IL 9

About Rep. Janice
  • The Decline in U.s. Research

    by Representative Janice D. Schakowsky

    Posted on 2013-12-11

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    SCHAKOWSKY. Thank you. I want to thank Congresswoman Speier for leading this really important debate.



    We have been talking lately about how we are not going to be able to compete for the economic development in research and biotechnology and all the things that we do at the NIH. But I also want to show how economically--with one of your charts--it really doesn't work for us here at home as well.

    Pretty much all you can see are the red lines, which are the costs every year in the United States of common diseases.

    As my colleague, Congressman Garamendi, pointed out, we have $203 billion a year that Alzheimer's costs our society as a whole. This is cancer, $158 billion. We have hypertension, $131 billion; diabetes, $116 billion; obesity, $109 billion; heart disease, $95.6 billion; stroke, $18.8 billion, Parkinson's disease, $6 billion.

    So it is really easy to see these red lines.

    Teeny, tiny, and I think maybe the only one you can see here well is the amount of money that we are spending to address these diseases. NIH research funding and annual cost of care for major diseases in the U.S. is what this chart is about.

    We spend $5.5 billion on cancer research. On Alzheimer's disease it has not even been a billion dollars. It is half a billion dollars for a disease that costs $200 billion to our economy. And on and on.

    The teeny, tiny blue lines are barely very visible of how much we are actually investing in trying to deal with these diseases and diminish the tremendous costs to families and costs to government through our public health programs.

    And so if we are smart investors, wise investors in how we can save ourselves money, we would put money into this kind of research.

    I just want to give an example from my district of lack of being penny wise and pound foolish.

    Northwestern University is developing one of the first major studies to look at the impact of contaminants from superfund sites--those are the most polluted sites in our country--on our reproductive health.

    So Northwestern, which is in Evanston, Illinois, and I am proud to say in my district--a constituent of mine--proposed a study to examine the reproductive health impacts of exposure to metals, including zinc and lead, that are present in the DePue superfund site in Illinois--a very dirty site.

    {time} 1830 Initially, in the fall of 2012, the Northwestern University Superfund Research program, led by Dr. Teresa Woodruff, was awarded a positive score with a good chance of receiving funding in response to the NIH research application. Mind you, if we had been able to research this particular Superfund contaminated site, it would have helped all over the country where we have these kinds of contaminations.

    Due to limited funding--due to the sequestration--in March of 2013, Dr. Woodruff and her colleague were informally given the option to receive a reduced amount for a reduced period of time since their application was deemed, in fact, meritorious. After electing to accept the reduced funding, the NIH informed the Northwestern University Superfund Research program that, due to the sequester cuts, their project would not be funded.

    This lack of funding means Dr. Woodruff and her team are unable to perform this critical research which would be helpful all over the country to help us gain a better understanding of the reproductive health risks of Superfund sites and to help us determine the best practices for the future disposal of those toxic chemicals.

    We are absolutely putting hands behind our backs in order to address critical health issues that are facing our country. We are hamstringing our ability to compete globally. We are hurting the health of Americans and of future Americans in not funding the study of reproductive health. It just makes no sense. It makes absolutely no sense to cut the funding from the National Institutes of Health. It is hard to figure out what that argument would be. You certainly can't say this is frivolous spending, excessive spending.

    So I really thank you for calling attention to the one of many ways that the sequester has hurt our country, but it is a very significant one. I appreciate your leadership.

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