The Preeclampsia Foundation recently “signed on” to a letter to Congress that was generated by the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research. You may know that we are members of “Friends of NIH (National Institute of Health)” and it is through that association we are able to make our voice heard in such matters. Make no mistake about it, we are friends of NIH . . . but as most of us know, even the best of friends can have disagreements. However, before I go there, let’s address the areas in which the Preeclampsia Foundation strongly supports the NIH.
These are clearly tough economic times, and it seems there is a “bail out” or “recovery package” (depending on whom you are talking to) for almost everyone, and we want to make sure that NIH is not left in the cold. Accordingly, we have supported the recommendation that an additional $1.9 billion be allocated for NIH in the current economic packages that are being debated in Congress. Now, before you get apoplectic over the Foundation advocating what some might describe as irresponsible spending increases . . . consider the following (according to the Ad Hoc Group on Medical Research):
• NIH has been underfunded (i.e., below the rate of inflation) for the last six years, causing the real dollar value of its grants to drop.
• This funding could support an additional 5,000 grants that are awarded through its competitive system (i.e., only the best get funded).
• This one boggled my mind – and I quote from the letter to Congress, According to a study released in June 2008 by Families USA, on average, in fiscal year 2007, every dollar of NIH funding generated more than twice as much in state economic output. This means an overall investment of $22.846 billion from NIH generated a total of $50.537 billion in new state business activity in the form of increased output of goods and services. This same study revealed that in FY 2007 NIH grants and contracts created and supported more than 350,000 jobs that generated wages in excess of $18 billion in the 50 states. The average wage associated with the jobs created was $52,000.
• Lastly, I learned from the “sign-on” letter that, since 2003, NIH has lost about 14% of its purchasing power when measured against inflation in the biomedical arena
So, not only is NIH the epicenter of medical research in the country, it is an economic engine that generates good jobs (with the positive ripple effect that has in local communities). It strikes this writer as just plain good sense that we should be supporting this allocation request. It’s an investment.