Cancer Community Leaders Make Case for Federal Funding to Deliver Promising Local Research from Labs to Doctors' Offices

Feb 23, 2012, 13:09 ET from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

With the National Cancer Institute Facing Budget Cuts, Washington Cancer Community Urges Congress to Make Research Funding a Priority

SEATTLE, Feb. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) brought cancer community leaders together at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center today to encourage lawmakers to support increased federal funding for cancer research so that progress can continue against a disease that kills an estimated 1,500 people in America each day.

"We are on the verge of making unprecedented progress that could change the way we prevent and treat cancer in this country, thanks in no small part to previous federal investments in cancer research," said Chris Hansen, president, ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. "Any funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health will jeopardize the innovative research at local cancer centers that has resulted in the dramatic progress we have seen during the past 40 years against cancer."

Earlier this month, President Obama's Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal included cuts for research funding at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and for prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Congress is now beginning consideration of a budget resolution to establish funding levels for next year.

More than 80 percent of federal funding for NIH is spent on biomedical research projects at local research facilities across the country. According to NIH, nearly $24 billion funded nearly 51,000 research grants in every state and virtually every congressional district across the country last year alone. In 2011, research institutions in Washington received more than 1,574 grants totaling nearly $926 million in federal funding from NIH.

To highlight the impact of federal funding in Washington, Lawrence Corey, M.D., president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, discussed examples of groundbreaking projects at the Center that currently receive funding from NIH.

"We at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are delivering on our mission to eliminate cancer as a cause of human suffering and death. Our pioneering research in bone marrow and stem cell transplantation has boosted survival rates for certain leukemias from nearly zero to 90 percent. Fewer women will face a diagnosis of cervical cancer thanks to our fundamental work in the development of Gardasil, a vaccine against the viruses that cause the majority of cervical cancers. The Hutchinson Center also played a key role in a Women's Health Initiative study that found a link between combination hormone replacement therapy use and increased risk of breast cancer. This information significantly changed hormone-therapy use in the U.S. and, as a result, breast cancer rates among American women have declined by about 10 percent – that's 20,000 fewer cases of breast cancer each year," Corey said. "With sustained levels of federal research funding we must and will continue to build on these successes to seek ways to prevent cancer, detect the disease early and treat patients with targeted, less-toxic and less-invasive therapies."

It takes nearly two decades on average to deliver a new drug or treatment from the lab to the doctor's office for patient use. Cancer centers across the country depend on federal grants from agencies such as NIH as their largest source of cancer research funding. The Hutchinson Center, for example, relied on nearly $240 million in federal grants and contracts from NIH last year. 

Corey was joined by lymphoma specialist Oliver W. Press, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division. For more than 25 years, Press and his colleagues have developed a highly effective way to spare normal cells while blasting cancer with high doses of radiation. Combined with stem-cell transplantation, this approach has produced some of the best lymphoma cure rates in the world. In his lab, Press' newest therapeutic approach for leukemia and lymphoma shows great promise, with 100 percent cure rates so far in model organisms.

"Federal support of cancer research has put us on the verge of some incredible breakthroughs, and this work is going on here at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and other research institutions around the country. We need to bring these potential discoveries to fruition because they will lead to treatments for some of the most deadly cancers," said Hansen. "I am convinced that Members of Congress will support funding when they understand this research is benefiting their own constituents, and is being conducted right in their own backyard."

Federally funded research has a positive economic impact on communities nationwide. In 2010, NIH grants yielded $68 billion in new economic activity and supported 487,000 jobs across 50 states and Washington, D.C. In Washington, that investment translated into more than $1 billion in economic activity and more nearly 17,000 new jobs.

Seattle is the fifth largest biotech center in the country and 17,500 of its citizens are employed in the industry. One in five jobs in Seattle are tied to the health care sector overall. For every new position created at the Hutchinson Center 1.53 new jobs are created in Seattle.

Federal funding for medical research and cancer prevention programs has had a role in every major advance against this disease, resulting in 350 more lives saved from the disease per day than in 1991. Past federal investments have also put the scientific community on the verge of making groundbreaking new discoveries that could accelerate our progress and bring us closer to ending death and suffering from cancer.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

About the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Hutchinson Center researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit

SOURCE American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)