Scientists and Advocates Rally for Medical Research

photo by ThinkProgress

) photo by ThinkProgress

The annual scientific meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research took a little lunch break on Monday, April 8th in Washington, D.C., while the attendees streamed outside to join a crowd of several thousand gathered across the street for a loud street rally.

“When [Congress] sees a grassroots movement rising up from doctors, from scientists, from advocates, and patients, you become impossible to ignore,” cancer survivor Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) told the cheering crowd. (Watch video of the speakers here.)

Fight Colorectal Cancer was one of 200-plus organizations who gathered and supported the  Rally for Medical Research, aimed at the politicians who have made, and are making,  decisions about budget cuts. The sequester alone will cut about $1.5 billion from the National Institutes of Health, and with overall budget cuts, NIH will lose about $12.5 billion over the year.

Penny-wise, pound-foolish: Research cuts mean lost jobs

Speaker Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D., president of Rockefeller University, pointed out that NIH total spending comes to about $100 per person in the U.S. each year, compared with that person’s yearly health costs totaling around $8000.

The main scientific organizations, including AACR (the American Association for Cancer Research) at its current annual meeting, point out that those NIH cuts alone will likely result in the loss of a half-million jobs, and an estimated $860 billion in economic growth over the next nine years. In fact,, federal investment in the largest-ever scientific collaboration, the Human Genome Project, paid off wildly: the economy gained $140 for every $1 in federal support over 5 years–not to mention the warp-speed increase in genetic knowledge about every major disease.

Scientists Honor Katie Couric

The AACR also took time to award colorectal cancer activist and journalist Katie Couric with its 2013 AACR Award for Distinguished Public Service, for all her work fundraising for research and drawing the public’s attention to cancer screening and treatment. She told the crowded hall, that “with 18,000 scientists gathered here, there are enough synapses firing in this room alone to power a nuclear reactor….To stand here in front of all of you is truly humbling….I consider myself the unofficial but highly enthusiastic cheerleader for the people who do research in cancer.”

Five years ago, she said, ” We could not tolerate the fact the NCI could only fund 1 in 10 of grant proposals,” so a dozen “truly Type A women” founded Stand Up To Cancer, emphasizing teamwork, tight time frames, and true collaboration with five “dream teams” (now grown to 10) taking on out-of-the-box ideas to beat cancer. (See the video about Katie Couric, followed by her speech, here.

Stay tuned…more to come

Fight Colorectal Cancer is well represented at AACR: stay tuned.

Sources: The Rally for Medical Research, reported on by The Hill, by HealthWatch , and “Thousands Rally for Medical Research in Washington, DC”, Apr. 8 Medscape Oncology News; news from AACR Annual Meeting, Tuesday Daily Alert. 


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