Lupus Research Institute Calls for More Funding for Research on Autoimmune Disease
The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) has called for Congress to take action in order to maintain the nation’s biomedical research enterprise under the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Representing lupus patients throughout the country, LRI chose to testify before the Fiscal 2014 Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Public Witness Hearing. This hearing was taking place during the initial phase of the sequestration to federally funded programs, which included planned cuts of $1. billion to the budgets of the NIH.
Representing the Lupus Research Institute at the hearing was the renowned lupus expert and rheumatologist Dr. Richard Furie. During his testimonial, he highlighted the essential need to continue providing better treatments to the millions of people who are living with the debilitating chronic autoimmune disease lupus. He also suggested that breakthroughs in research conducted on lupus have served as prototypes for the myriad of other autoimmune diseases which affect one out of every five people in this country.
The Devastating Effect of Lupus in America
In order to accurately paint a mental picture of the effect that lupus has had, Dr. Furie asked those in attendance at the hearing to picture a disease with an unknown cause which could easily lead to other complications like stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease in young female patients. He went on to describe lupus as an illness which can manifest without prior warning, seemingly at random, damaging vital organs and other tissues in the body.
“During the course of my career, approximately 100 of my lupus patients have died, and countless have had strokes or have gone on to kidney failure and required dialysis,” Dr. Furie stated. “I could fill the entire day with heartbreaking stories. Our goal is to cure this disease so there are no more stories.”
Continue to Invest in Lupus Research
Dr. Furie was keen to emphasize the significance of sustaining a resilient, innovative biomedical research enterprise that is supported and led by the NIH. “Clearly, tomorrow’s advances in lupus and other autoimmune diseases depend on today’s investments in NIH research. Sustained, dependable, long-term growth in NIH-funded medical research brings the promise of new knowledge and technologies in pursuit of cures for patients. The NIH mission is critical, as is its support in maintaining our global leadership in biomedical research and development. The fiscal climate of the past few years has threatened the stability of the biomedical research enterprise.”
The Lupus Research Institute is seeking $30 billion in Fiscal 2014 appropriations, which translates to only a 2.7 percent increase in the budget. However, this relatively modest alteration would allow the NIH to continue to pursue research targets that show real promise and could vastly improve the lives of people living with chronic disease.
In conclusion, Dr. Furie challenged the Congress and the Administration to work collaboratively in order to develop a new budget that could still address the fiscal needs of the nation while also preserving the national investment in innovative biomedical research. The Lupus Research Institute is not the only medical organization to have brought up issues with the budget cuts in this sequestration, so we must wait to see if any changes will be made.