The AACR Call to Action

Medical research is driving the innovation that is required to make progress against the more than 200 diseases we call cancer. Thanks to the remarkable and bipartisan efforts in Congress, the growth in the NIH budget during the past five years is allowing our nations’ researchers to pursue many of the unprecedented opportunities that exist today to improve health and save lives.

Most specifically, Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), as well as House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), have prioritized NIH funding over the past five fiscal years to the point that the lifesaving agency’s budget has increased by $11.6 billion or 39 percent since FY 2016. We have not seen this kind of focused commitment in Congress for the promise of medical research since the 1998-2003 NIH budget doubling initiative, and the AACR extends its appreciation to Congress for genuinely understanding that we are in a remarkable era of extraordinary scientific opportunities for truly transforming the way many diseases, including cancer, are prevented, detected, and treated.

In addition to making medical research a national priority, Congress has acknowledged the need for a dynamic FDA to ensure that research discoveries, once translated into therapies, are safe and effective, and reach the patients who need them as soon as possible, as well as an active CDC to protect people from health threats.

Therefore, the AACR urges Congress to:

  • Continue to support robust, sustained, and predictable growth for the NIH and NCI by providing increases in their FY2021 base budgets of at least $3 billion and $522 million, respectively, for a total funding level of $44.7 billion for the NIH and $6.9 billion for the NCI.
  • Ensure that the $195 million in funding designated through the 21st Century Cures Act for targeted initiatives, including the National Cancer Moonshot, is fully appropriated in FY2021 and is supplemental to the overall increase in the NIH base budget.
  • Provide $50 million for the second year of the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative and “no less than” $25 million for the continued implementation of the Childhood Cancer STAR Act.
  • Exempt NIH and other key public health agencies from the highly restrictive FY 2021 budget caps to allow them to forcefully respond to the COVID-19 health crisis, as well as to support the science that is necessary to improve and save lives from the myriad of diseases faced by Americans and by people all over the world.
  • Support the FDA’s critical regulatory science initiatives by providing an increase of at least $120 million in discretionary budget authority in FY 2021.
  • Support the CDC Cancer Prevention and Control Programs with total funding of at least $559 million. This includes funding for comprehensive cancer control, cancer registries, and screening and awareness programs for specific cancers.
  • Continue to support appropriation bills that include increased funding for CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health, to continue to strengthen comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the great health crises that this country has faced, leading to thousands of lives lost, an economy thrown into chaos, and significant alterations everyday life for millions of Americans. The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of medical research. Across the country, funding for ongoing medical research was diverted to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to expeditiously develop vaccines and treatments. Despite this current health crisis, cancer and other diseases unfortunately persist, and clinical research is essential to developing cutting edge treatments and cures for these diseases. By providing robust, sustained, and predictable annual funding increases for NIH and NCI in FY 2021 and beyond, Congress will continue to help us transform cancer care, increase survivorship, spur economic growth, and maintain the United States’ position as the premier leader in scientific and medical research.