NEW YORK, May 2, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A bipartisan spending bill for Fiscal 2017 that includes key provisions the Lupus Research Alliance and lupus advocates across the country have fought for is well on its way to becoming law this week. H.R. 244 has been introduced in the House of Representatives for a vote later this week to be followed by a vote in the Senate. President Trump indicated he will sign it into law.
H.R. 244 establishes for the first time an annual $5 million lupus medical research program at the Department of Defense (DoD), provides $34 billion for biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health, and appropriates an additional $2 million for the Lupus Initiative at the Office of Minority Health – a national program initiated over 10 years ago by the Lupus Research Alliance.
Appropriations Dedicated for Lupus Research
The new bill includes $5 million for a lupus research grant program under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program operated by the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command in Ft. Detrick, MD. DoD data show that women – the primary population affected by lupus – now make up a much greater share of our armed forces and veterans than ever before. Lupus also disproportionately targets women of color; a recent report found that the active-duty female force is racially diverse.
Strong Leadership from the Congressional Lupus Caucus
Lupus research has been a top priority of the Congressional Lupus Caucus led by Co-chairs Representatives Tom Rooney (R-FL), William Keating (D-MA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). The Caucus leadership has championed the cause and responded strongly to Lupus Research Alliance advocates who travelled to Washington over the past year to meet with their lawmakers. In addition to the Caucus members, the Lupus Research Alliance thanks House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Defense Subcommittee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) for their work on behalf of the lupus community.
Bill Grants Request for $2 Billion NIH Funding Increase
The bill provides $34 billion for biomedical research that Lupus Research Alliance advocates requested when visiting legislators over the last two years. With this provision, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget for research conducted through the National Institutes of Health is increased $2 billion over 2016.
"Funding for the NIH is critical for people with lupus and all chronic diseases," noted Kenneth M. Farber, Co-CEO and Co-president, Lupus Research Alliance. "While our organization invests substantially in pioneering innovative lupus research, our investigators then obtain large grants from the NIH to continue their research – work that must advance if we are to give people with lupus the much-needed improvements in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention they need."
Alleviating Racial Disparities
The Lupus Initiative, also covered by H.R. 244, is a national healthcare provider education program originally conceived by the Lupus Research Alliance in collaboration with the federal government to help alleviate racial disparities in lupus. Over the past decade, more than $10 million in Congressional appropriations has been secured to fund the Lupus Initiative so medical professionals throughout the country can better recognize, diagnose and treat lupus promptly and properly.
"We identified significant racial disparities in lupus care among minority populations over 15 years ago and created the Lupus Initiative with the Office of Minority Health, Office of Women's Health and the Surgeon General to address the issue," commented Margaret G. Dowd, Co-CEO and Co-President of the Lupus Research Alliance. "Our advocates work hard each year to urge legislation that continues to support this critical healthcare professional education to improve diagnosis, prompt treatment and encourage racially diverse participation in clinical studies for new therapies."
Lupus is a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90% of lupus sufferers are women, mostly young women between the ages of 15 to 44. Women of color are especially at risk. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that attack the body's own tissues and organs -- the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints.
About the Lupus Research Alliance
The Lupus Research Alliance unites the global lupus community in bold determination to free the world of lupus through the power of science. The organization is transforming the lives of people affected by lupus as it welcomes and embraces a new scientific era, pioneers innovation, pushes the frontiers of knowledge, enlists diverse new scientific talent, and leads the drive to new treatments, prevention and cure. Because the Lupus Research Alliance Board of Directors funds all administrative and fundraising costs, 100% of all donations goes to support lupus research programs.
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SOURCE Lupus Research Alliance