WASHINGTONTwo effective advocates for biomedical research who
are retiring from Congress were honored by two advocacy groups for
their support of increased funding for the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
John Porter (R-Ill) and Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla) received the first-
ever Legacy Award from the National Coalition for Cancer Research
(NCCR) during an evening reception. They were also presented the
Lifetime Award of the Cancer Research Foundation of Americas
Congressional Families Action for Cancer Awareness at a luncheon.
Rep. Porter, a 22-year member of Congress, has served for the last
several Congresses as chair of the House appropriations subcommittee
that oversees the NIH budget. He was honored for his significant
contributions to the battle against cancer, particularly his
leadership in the House in the effort to double the NIH budget over 5
Sen. Mack, who also served in the House, is retiring after two terms
in the US Senate. The Senator, a cancer survivor himselfas is
his wife, Priscillawas honored for originating the idea of
doubling the NIH budget and with providing strong leadership for
cancer issues on Capitol Hill.
During his remarks at the NCCR reception, Rep. Porter said he
expected the fiscal year budget to include about a 15% increase, for
the third year in a row, in the NIH and NCI budgets. But he warned
that continued increases are never certain. He urged advocacy groups
to continue lobbying Congress to ensure that the dream of doubling
NIHs funding will become a reality.
Even with the extraordinary increases in funding for NCI and
funding for NIH in general, we are still falling behind in the
funding of the good science that is available, Rep. Porter
said. We are not even keeping up with the scientific
opportunities, even though were doubling the funding for NIH.
Thats how fast the science is increasing.
He also warned that the advocacy community and Congress must look
ahead. We have to ask ourselves at this time, when we complete
doubling the funding for NIH, what are we going to do then to make
certain this remains a very high priority to capture as much as
possible of the very good science that is out there, Rep.
Rep. Porter noted that some people still question whether the funds
provided to NIH are well spent. This money is being better
spent than anywhere else in government and it is buying good
science, the congressman said. The chances for scientific
breakthroughs have never been better.
Sen. Mack acknowledged at the NCCR reception that the notion of
doubling the NIH budget sprang more from emotion than scientific
analysis. He said the idea emerged during a hearing at which he heard
testimony from Travis Roy, a Boston College student rendered
quadriplegic by an injury in his first collegiate hockey game.
When asked about his dream, he said that he hoped someday to be
able to hug his mother, and that is where the idea came from:
lets double researcha very scientific approach that I
used to get that number, the Senator quipped. I suspect
that there was a great sense that thats a great idea, but
it is never going to happen. Well, because we believed in what
we were doing, and because of organizations like yours, it is, in
fact, going to happen.
NCCR also presented Congressional Champion Awards to Rep. Ken Bentsen
(D-Tex), Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass), Rep. Deborah Pryce
(R-Ohio), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa), and Rep. C. W. Bill
Awards also presented at the Cancer Research Foundation of America
(CRFA) luncheon were:
Spouse Award: Tamra Bentsen, wife of Rep. Bentsen, and Jill Biden,
wife of Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-Del).
Advocate Award: Ruth Ann LaMott and Barbara Raehl, creators of a
program at Munson Medical Center, Traverse City, Michigan, that helps
guide breast cancer patients after they receive their diagnosis.
Media Award: Shirley Ruedy, health columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette