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Issue Background

Increase Funding for Biomedical Research

Ensuring robust funding for biomedical research is key to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and other neuromuscular diseases.  MDA is committed to ensuring that treatments and cures are discovered, developed, and delivered as quickly as possible, which is why MDA directly funds researchers and their work and advocates for increased federal funding for biomedical research.  MDA has funded over $1 billion in neuromuscular disease research, but the scale and scope of what federal entities is unparalleled. This is why advocating for sustained and robust federal funding for critical programs including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defenses’ Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs is one of MDA’s policy priorities.

NIH is the largest funding source of biomedical research in the United States and ensuring robust funding with sustained and predictable increases is essential to ensuring that good science does not go unfunded.  While organizations like MDA can contribute important funds and support to the neuromuscular disease research space, a strong federally supported research program is essential.

While Congress in 2016 through 2019 implemented $2 billion boosts for NIH, funding levels over the previous decade failed to keep up with the rising costs of medical research.  Despite recent increases in funding through the federal appropriations process and 21st Century Cures legislation, NIH continues to have significantly less purchasing power than it did more than adecade ago.  This lack of funding has resulted in a lower grant application success rate--which means that promising science goes unexplored.  

In recent years NIH funding has had strong bipartisan support and MDA appreciates every lawmaker that supports increased biomedical research funding and appreciates every advocate who has helped ensure that research funding is a non-partisan issue.  

A smaller, yet important source for research funding is the Department of Defenses’ (DOD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).  The DOD funds critical biomedical research programs related to multiple neuromuscular disorders, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). 

We call on Congress to continue the momentum and to commit to robust and consistent funding increases to NIH.  With several new drug approvals for disorders—ALS, DMD and SMA—in the past year and with additional therapies in clinical trials and a robust drug development pipeline, never before has biomedical research held so much promise for so many. We must ensure that funding for research continues to grow and we are asking everyone to engage in this important effort.

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