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U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today sought to emphasize the importance of making federal resources available to medical research institutions like the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC).

Cochran serves on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which met Wednesday for a hearing titled, “Saving Lives Through Medical Research.” Witnesses included Jennifer Sasser, PhD, director of the UMMC Graduate Program in Medical Pharmacology.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding to Mississippi has increased to $53.5 million in 2016 from $33.6 million in 2011. The NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, which seeks to broaden the geographic distribution of federal research, has provided resources to institutions like the University of Mississippi for faculty development and increased research capacity.

“It is prudent to review the effectiveness of federal programs as Congress works to ensure responsible allocation of federal funding. The University of Mississippi Medical Center is an example of a research institution competing successfully for Institutional Development Award funds to build research capacity and combat health disparities in states like Mississippi,” Cochran said. “We should keep the progress being made by IDeA states in mind as we are challenged to accommodate demands for limited taxpayer dollars.”

Sasser, while testifying about research advances made by UMMC, encouraged the committee to support continued IDeA funding as a means of allowing institutions like UMMC to make research advances, maintain laboratory capabilities and foster a new generation of biomedical researchers.

“The IDeA program has been important to Mississippi for many years and has funded several groundbreaking research projects in institutions across the state,” Sasser testified. “Had we not been able to compete in this more level playing field of IDeA research states, securing funding for these and other projects would have been difficult, if not impossible.”

In her testimony, Sasser also cited an October 2016 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Today article, “Send My Tax Dollars to Mississippi,” which concludes “that Mississippi, and in particular the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is an outstanding federal research investment.” (Link: http://bit.ly/2mH423K)

House and Senate negotiators are working to finalize the FY2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill, which would fund the IDeA program. The bipartisan Senate bill passed by the Committee last June provided a $2.0 billion increase for the NIH, including $333.4 million for the IDeA program.


Posted March 8, 2017 - 12:11 pm

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