When doctors evaluate a patient or prescribe a therapy for a serious illness, federally funded medical research plays a key role in the process and the success. During my career (I graduated from medical school in 1962), many life-threatening conditions such as leukemia, lymphoma and cancer, have become curable. Many other diseases, such as heart disease and hemophilia, are treated with much more success.
However, the hope for continuing the wonderful successes of medical research is in jeopardy. Among other federally funded programs, the National Institutes of Health will have an 8.4 percent cut if the scheduled across-the-board cuts (known as “sequestration”) are implemented in January.
Deficit reduction will require tough choices, but Congress must use a balanced approach; cutting medical research absolutely can't be an option. Currently, 90 percent of research proposals made by scientists and physicians are rejected for funding by the NIH due to resource limitations. This will worsen if the NIH budget is further reduced. Each of us needs to understand that this issue affects us all.
Fortunately, few of us have a serious illness. But many of us will develop a serious illness during our lifetime, and we will all have loved ones with serious illnesses. Funding for the NIH matters to you. If not now, it certainly will.
James N. George, M.D., Oklahoma City