May 6, 2010

Whitehouse Introduces Bill to Increase Funding for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Washington, DC – With survival rates for pancreatic cancer consistently lagging behind other forms of cancer, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today introduced legislation aimed at fighting the disease by increasing funding for research. The Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act (S. 3320) would increase awareness of pancreatic cancer and authorize an NIH grant program to better fund research on prevention, early detection, and treatment.

“Pancreatic cancer is a terrible disease with survival rates that have not significantly improved in decades,” said Whitehouse. “This bill makes vital investments in NIH research into new treatments and represents a renewed federal commitment to fight back against pancreatic cancer.”

Pancreatic cancer research suffers from lack of funding and institutional focus, constituting less than 2% of the National Cancer Institute’s research funding. Out of the researchers who received NCI funding specifically for pancreatic cancer research in 2008, only 38 received funding at levels appropriate for senior scientists – grants of $500,000 or more. By comparison, this level of funding was awarded to 273 breast cancer researchers, 129 prostate cancer researchers, and 121 colorectal cancer researchers.

Whitehouse’s bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to design and implement an initiative to coordinate and promote pancreatic cancer research and increase physician and public awareness of the disease; create an interdisciplinary committee, appointed by the Secretary, to guide pancreatic research activities, develop an annual strategic plan, and make recommendations regarding the prioritization and award of NIH grants for pancreatic cancer research; authorize an NIH grant program for research institutions to develop innovative compounds or technologies for prevention, early detection, or treatment of cancers with 5 year survival rates of less than 50%; and authorize the Secretary to designate two centers of research excellence focusing on pancreatic cancer research.


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