Monday, May 16, 2011

Freshmen Start the Day with NIH 101

On Wednesday, I attended a breakfast meeting sponsored by Congressman Dan Benishek, MD of Michigan. This meeting provided an opportunity for several freshman Members of Congress to meet Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health.

We were thrilled to be joined by Congressman Austin Scott of Georgia, Congressman Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Congressman Larry Buchson, MD of Indiana and Congressman John Carney from Delaware.

Congressman Benishek opened the meeting by introducing Dr. Collins and thanking those in attendance. After providing a brief overview of the NIH, the members were given an opportunity to ask questions about health and biomedical research.

The Q&A discussion touched on a variety of issues and challenges facing health and health research. The importance of prevention was discussed as a cost-effective means for improving health while lowering overall health spending. Dr. Collins also mentioned the importance of personalized medicine and new technology to foster healthy behaviors in patients. But he also informed members about the challenges facing the NIH. Dr. Collins estimates that grant award rates at NIH could dip as low as 17% due to funding constraints, which would be the lowest in history.

Overall, the freshmen members in attendance seemed supportive of research to improve health and interested in health research issues. They all received personal invitations to take a tour of the NIH. Have your representatives visited the NIH campus yet?

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