"Federal Cancer Research Funding Crisis Threatens Nation," Top Researcher Patricia Berg And Ex-House Committee Director Robert Weiner Assert

Apr 18, 2012, 06:00 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON, APRIL 18, 2012  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- George Washington University cancer researcher Dr. Patricia Berg and former House Aging Committee Director Robert Weiner tackle the current cancer research funding crisis in an article entitled "FEDERAL CANCER RESEARCH FUNDING CRISIS THREATENS NATION," which appeared in the Wednesday edition of the Michigan Chronicle, named "best black paper in the country" six times in the last 12 years by the National Newspaper Association.

Berg and Weiner were inspired to address the topic after participating in the 2012 American Association for Cancer Research convention in Chicago, which 18,000 cancer scientists and physicians attended.  There, outgoing president Dr. Judy Garber told the audience that "funding is in crisis" forty years after the nation declared war on cancer. 

Berg and Weiner explained  in the article, "As the government keeps funding two foreign wars and ongoing tax breaks, curing diseases like cancer is being threatened in the budget process. In both the State of the Union and Budget Message, President Obama promised investment in biomedical research. However, the House budget just passed (the Ryan-Rodgers budget endorsed by now-presumptive Presidential nominee Mitt Romney) reduces NIH research by so-called 'flat funding' for three straight years. While making hard budget choices, the nation is almost schizophrenic between cuts and necessary programs. With the economy still in crisis, the private sector does not have the ability to make up the difference."

Berg and Weiner emphasized the effect of this funding crisis: "Research cuts mean ongoing cancer deaths. One in two men and one in three women will develop cancer in their lifetime according to the National Cancer Institute. There are 1.5 million new cancer cases and 570,000 deaths annually in the U.S. There are over 200,060 new breast cancer patients and 40,000 deaths each year."

The authors also talk about the condition of the funding market, "The Avon Foundation has donated nearly a Billion dollars to breast cancer education, research, and prevention since 1992, and 200 million to research in the last decade. Avon expedites tests and advancement of cutting-edge discoveries with significant diagnosis and treatment potential like BP1, a gene expressed in the tumors of 80% of women with breast cancer and 70% of men with prostate cancer – and showing disproportionately high numbers for African-American women with breast cancer. Komen and the Susan Love Foundation also help make up the difference. In the world's wealthiest nation, with hard-to-explain government funding cuts, private industries are scrambling to fund life-saving research."

Berg and Weiner assert, "Thanks to successful laboratory research, a woman's risk of dying of breast cancer has now dropped 31 percent since 1989. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) told the National Press Club, 'There is a direct line from NIH research to the life-span increases' in America.  Despite these breakthroughs, the U.S. now ranks 49th in life expectancy, right above Taiwan, Kuwait, Cyprus, Cuba, Panama, and Costa Rica."

"Just while such clear breakthroughs are being made—and with breast cancer still ranking as the number one fear for women – now is no time to stop the train and cut funding," Berg and Weiner contend.

Berg and Weiner quote Jon Retzlaff, Director of Science Policy & Government Affairs, who added that the "price index places the National Cancer Institute's budget 20% below its real dollars in 2003." The impact: "Things are having to slow down…. We cannot support the research that has improved survival from cancer by over 30% the last three decades."

"Funding for the wars and the rich tax cuts is literally killing us when traditional support for cancer research could save Americans from one of their greatest fears," Berg and Weiner said today.

Link to article (April 17 online, April 18 hard copy): http://www.michronicleonline.com/index.php/top-news/5611-federal-cancer-research-funding-crisis-threatens-detroit-nation

Contact: Bob Weiner/Richard Mann 301-283-0821 or cell 202-329-1700 weinerpublic@comcast.net

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates