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Statement from American Society of Hematology 2016 President Charles S. Abrams, MD, on the White House Fiscal Year 2017 Proposed Budget, Cancer “Moonshot” Initiative

(WASHINGTON, February 9, 2016) – Today the White House unveiled a proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget asking Congress to approve approximately $33.1 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which will provide approximately 10,000 new biomedical research grants. The Administration also requested $755 million in mandatory funds to invest in programs that would accelerate cures for cancers as part of the Vice President’s National Cancer “Moonshot” initiative.

There has never been a more pivotal and exciting time in medical research, especially in hematology. Our basic molecular understanding of blood diseases is rapidly translating into promising new treatments at an unprecedented rate. At the 57th ASH Annual Meeting in December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced three new drugs for treating multiple myeloma, an incurable and hard-to-treat cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. The Vice President’s cancer “Moonshot” initiative seeks to accelerate progress across all cancers by supporting research in cancer prevention and vaccine development, early detection, immunotherapy and combination therapy, genomic analysis, data sharing, and pediatric cancer. In addition to the proposed FY2017 appropriation for this initiative, the Administration has already allocated $195 million in FY2016 funds for new cancer-related activities at the NIH.

ASH applauds the President for prioritizing biomedical research, and the Society looks forward to working with the White House and Congress on the “Moonshot” initiative. Congress has shown tremendous bipartisan support for the NIH in recent months with the October passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which provided two years of sequestration relief, and an increase in funding for NIH in FY2016. ASH encourages lawmakers to continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to provide sustainable and predictable funding increases for the NIH in FY2017 and beyond. There is too much at stake for momentum to slow at such a critical time for scientific discovery. 

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 50 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. The official journal of ASH is Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online.