On September 17, I joined members of over 300 national organizations to participate in the Rally for Medical Research Capitol Hill Day. Many rally participants were fellow scientists from all across the country, attending to urge Congress to provide robust, sustainable, and predictable funding for NIH in 2016 and beyond. However, most rally participants were patients and loved ones, attending to advocate and show support for biomedical research, as those directly affected by disease and those anticipating with hope new biomedical breakthroughs.
Rally participants were organized into groups based on their home state. My group from Virginia met with four House offices and the two Virginia Senate offices. At these office meetings, I described my experience as an early career scientist, having seen my peers leave biomedical research or the country for more reliable career opportunities, a direct result of decade-low NIH funding levels. I conveyed that basic science research is critical for advances in patient treatment, but that the clinical implementation of basic science research may take decades, making the need for sustainable and predictability funding that much more crucial. In my group, my fellow rally participants expressed their own personal, and often heartbreaking, stories of how disease had directly touched their lives, and each voiced how imperative supporting NIH and biomedical research is to themselves and those similarly affected.
The House and Senate offices that we met with all agreed that NIH funding is important and optimistically stated that NIH support seems to be one issue that Congress members on both sides of the aisle can agree upon.
Seth H. Weinberg,Research Assistant Professor, Old Dominion University