Amidst some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the medical field, the President spoke this morning
about his commitment to making a "lasting difference" in the health of the American people—and how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will play a role in creating those differences:
Now, today I'm here to talk about our nation's commitment to research. I want to thank Dr. Collins and his team for showing me and Kathleen some of the extraordinary groundbreaking research being done at the National Institutes of Health.
The work you do is not easy. It takes a great deal of patience and persistence. But it holds incredible promise for the health of our people and the future of our nation and our world. That’s why I’m here today. For decades, the NIH has been at the forefront of medical invention and innovation, helping to save countless lives and relieve untold suffering. And yet, if we’re honest, in recent years we’ve seen our leadership slipping as scientific integrity was at times undermined and research funding failed to keep pace.
We know that the work you do would not get done if left solely to the private sector. Some research does not lend itself to quick profit. And that’s why places like the NIH were founded. And that’s why my administration is making a historic commitment to research and the pursuit of discovery. And that’s why today we’re announcing that we've awarded $5 billion -- that's with a "b" -- in grants through the Recovery Act to conduct cutting-edge research all across America, to unlock treatments to diseases that have long plagued humanity, to save and enrich the lives of people all over the world. This represents the single largest boost to biomedical research in history. (Applause.)
Now, one of the most exciting areas of research to move forward as a result of this investment will be in applying what scientists have learned through the Human Genome Project to help us understand, prevent, and treat various forms of cancer, heart disease, and autism. And having been a leader of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Collins knows this promise all too well. And it's a promise that we've only just begun to realize.
In cancer, we're beginning to see treatments based on our knowledge of genetic changes that cause the disease and the genetic predispositions that many of us carry that make us more susceptible to the disease. But we've only scratched the surface of these kinds of treatments, because we've only begun to understand the relationship between our environment and genetics in causing and promoting cancer.
So through the Recovery Act, the NIH is expanding the Cancer Genome Atlas, collecting more than 20,000 tissue samples to sequence the DNA of more than 20 types of cancer. And this has extraordinary potential to help us better understand and treat this disease. Cancer has touched the lives of all Americans, including my own family's; 1.5 million people will be diagnosed in the next year. Half a million people will lose their lives. We all know the terrible toll on families and the promise of treatments that will allow a mother to be there for her children as they grow up; that will make it possible for a child to reach adulthood; that will allow countless people to survive a disease that's claimed far too many lives.
(President Barack Obama talks with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a tour of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009. Listening are Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, left, and Dr. Francis Collins, left, Director of NIH, third from left. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
A critical part of the President's desire to make strides in medicine is the Recovery Act—under the President’s plan, tens of thousands of jobs will be created in the medical sector:
Now, we know that these investments in research will improve and save countless lives for generations to come. And as I was taking a tour with Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci and others, just listening to the possibility of a HIV/AIDS vaccine, or hearing the latest treatments of cancer that allow people who previously only had resort to the most violent types of radiation or chemotherapy, now being able to take pills and seeing extraordinary progress, it is something that is entirely inspiring. But we also know that these investments will save jobs, they'll create new jobs -- tens of thousands of jobs -- conducting research, and manufacturing and supplying medical equipment, and building and modernizing laboratories and research facilities all across America.