Congressman John B. Porter (R-IL), an advocate of biomedical research funding, was awarded the 1998 James Ewing Laymans Award at the 51st Annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) in San Diego, California. The award is presented annually to a nonphysician who has made a significant contribution to improving the care of cancer patients.
A supporter of the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Cancer Institute, Congressman Porter has championed cancer research. His contributions have helped to increase NIH funding and limit the impact of politics in research decision making, ensuring continuation of research and progress in cancer management.
Initiative to Raise NIH Funding
Chairman of the House Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, John Porter launched an ongoing initiative to raise NIH funding in 1995 at the same time congressional committees were proposing 5 years of deep NIH budget cuts. Assembling biotechnology and pharmaceutical company CEOs, representatives from the research community, and key legislators in a pivotal meeting to share perspectives, he succeeded in gaining support for a 5.7% NIH increase.
There are many priorities before us, Congressman Porter explained. But none is higher than biomedical research through the NIH. All the costs of research at NIH through its entire history have been covered by the health care savings from just one discovery. And there have been tens of thousands of similar discoveries over the last few decades, he added.
Congressman Porters commitment to research funding continues to gain momentum. In the past year, NIH appropriations increased by 7.1%. The congressmans goal is to see NIH funding double over the next 5 years.
Recognized as one of Congresss most fiscally conservative legislators, Porter supports basic research through NIH alongside deficit reductions and balanced budgets. The two are not at odds, he explains. Federally-supported biomedical research creates high-skill jobs, helps retain Americas worldwide leadership in biomedical research, and supports the biotechnology industry that generates economic growth and a positive balance of trade for our country. Medical research provides great hope for effectively treating, curing and eventually preventing disease, thereby saving our country billions of dollars in annual health care costs, he said.
Efforts to Keep Politics out of Research Decisions
Congressman Porter is equally diligent in his efforts to keep politics out of research decision-making. There is growing pressure to earmark funds for research to specific diseases. Despite political pressure to pit one disease against another for funding, however, his subcommittee funds the NIH as a whole, without tying funds to specific disease research. Congressman Porter also has been instrumental in educating his congressional colleagues on the importance of keeping medical research decisions in the hands of researchers.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital recently honored Porter for his support of biomedical research. The National Taxpayers Union and Watchdogs of the Treasury have also recognized the congressman for fiscal conservancy. In addition, he was named Taxpayer Superhero in 1994 by the Grace Commission Citizens Against Government Waste.