The 21st Century Cures Act, also known as the Cures Act, provides the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with critical tools and resources to advance biomedical research across the spectrum, from foundational basic research studies to advanced clinical trials of promising new therapies. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed it with strong bipartisan support, and it became law on December 13, 2016.
Explore this issue:August 2017
The legislation provides $4.8 billion in funding to four highly innovative scientific initiatives over the next 10 years, including the All of Us Research Program, formerly known as the PMI Cohort Program ($1.45 billion), the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative ($1.5 billion), Cancer Moonshot ($1.8 billion), and the Regenerative Medicine Innovation Project ($30 million) (See Table 1).
“Funding to the NIH has been one of the most critical drivers of improved health in the world,” said Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, professor of otolaryngology, microbiology, and immunology, dean of the School of Medicine, and executive vice president of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “Virtually every disorder that an otolaryngologist comes into contact with has been altered, with improved patient outcomes, because of NIH-funded research. Specifically, the Cures Act includes increased funding to the NIH for cancer research—including cancer of the head and neck—which has the tremendous potential to make significant progress toward improved care and survival rates. Other areas of emphasis include funding for research in opioid use, behavioral health, and access to healthcare, which are critical areas impacting otolaryngologists and their patients.”
Baldwin Wong, chief of the Science Policy and Planning Branch of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) in Bethesda, Md., believes the act supports the NIDCD’s mission and will benefit the field of otolaryngology in many ways. The NIDCD is one of 27 NIH institutes and centers within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Here’s a closer look at each of the four initiatives.
Funding to the NIH has been one of the most critical drivers of improved health in the world. Virtually every disorder that an otolaryngologist comes into contact with has been altered, with improved patient outcomes because of NIH-funded research. —Joseph E. Kerschner, MD
All of Us Research Program
For this program, NIH will recruit one million or more adult volunteers in the United States to participate in a study to accelerate research for a wide range of diseases and improve the understanding of health. “Participants will provide information about their medical history and lifestyles on a questionnaire and may also be asked to provide physical measurements or donate a blood or urine sample,” Wong said. “Individuals with communication disorders could be part of this volunteer group, as the study aims to reach a cross-section of the country.”