WITH the nation’s economy in poor health, the congressional “super” committee appointed to propose areas for cuts to reduce the national deficit offered the promise of a cure. But when it ended deliberations without a proposal, it provided instead a bitter pill — $1.2 trillion in mandatory across-the-board cuts, half from defense and half from domestic programs, including medical research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
For millions of Americans and their families who suffer from serious illnesses and conditions, medical research provides hope for better health. Our nation’s investment in NIH-funded medical research over the past 60 years has catalyzed many of the advances that now help Americans live longer and healthier lives.
Because of medical research, the death rate for heart disease is more than 60 percent lower — and the death rate for stroke, 70 percent lower — than in the World War II era. Cancer death rates have dropped 11.4 percent among women and 19.2 percent among men over the past 15 years because of better detection and more-effective treatments. Research related to HIV has helped increase survival for millions of people, while the average life span of an individual has never been higher.