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America's Top Pediatric Medical Institutions Unite to Drive Increased Federal Investment in Pediatric Research

New Legislation Would Create and Fund Innovative National System for Coordinating Research, Help Address Under Funding of Children's Health Research

WASHINGTON, March 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an unprecedented step, nine of the nation's leading pediatric medical research institutions have come together to support an innovative new approach to the continued under funding of federal support for pediatric research. This situation has been described as a crisis in terms of finding cures for children's diseases and averting the staggering financial burden on an already stressed U.S. health care system, as ill children become even sicker adults.

The Coalition for Pediatric Medical Research, which has the support of all the major pediatric research societies, represents leading children's research hospitals across the U.S., from Boston to Los Angeles. Coalition leaders say that while children represent 20 percent of the U.S. population, only five percent of the funding from the National Institutes of Health is allocated for research on pediatric diseases. They are lining up behind a bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) that would not only authorize increased funding, but also create a new structure to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of pediatric disease research.

"The funding situation is unacceptable for today, and tomorrow," said Dr. David Williams, Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine and Director of Translational Research at Children's Hospital Boston, a spokesperson for the Coalition.

"Currently there simply isn't enough funding to find cures and better therapies for children who are suffering right now. In addition, when you consider the many serious, life-threatening health conditions that affect millions of adults, like heart disease and diabetes, which have their roots in childhood, you realize that without a concerted focus on pediatric research today, the costs of health care in the future will be enormous."

Dr. Williams also noted that "The consequences of inaction are clear -- we see them already today, as children continue to suffer and bright and talented young researchers are discouraged from entering careers in pediatrics because of a lack of funding for their work. But we can also envision the consequences of investment -- not only helping ill children, but also making discoveries that will help advance adult health, particularly adult diseases with genetic components."

The Pediatric Research Center Establishment Act introduced by Sens. Brown and Bond will address this situation by amending Title IV of the Public Health Service Act to authorize NIH to establish up to 20 pediatric research consortia, each funded by a five-year grant of up to $2.5 million per year. Each individual consortium will be a multi-institution network with one leading pediatric medical center at the hub, reaching out to and working with numerous other children's hospitals and health organizations to conduct basic and translational pediatric research.

This model will maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of NIH resources that are allocated, as well as creating a wider pool for recruitment of patients for the clinical trials that will be conducted. There will also be collaboration and sharing of results among the various consortia, putting an intense focus on pediatric research and creating lines of communication across the entire U.S. pediatric research community for the first time.

"Childhood diseases are traumatic to the whole family," Sen. Brown said. "But we aren't doing enough to prevent diseases and treat childhood conditions. This bill would better coordinate pediatric research that will help generations of children overcome numerous devastating diseases and conditions."

Sen. Bond noted that, "Investing in pediatric research is necessary to continue the critical advances we have made in children's health care. This bill means better health and health care for all children and will give hope to the doctors, nurses, and families who care for critically ill children."

The impact of this legislation would be to focus the priority status of pediatric research inside the NIH, said Dr. Williams. "That's why this new legislation is so important and why it enjoys such broad support among pediatric institutions and all the major pediatric research societies."

The pediatric research institutions in the Coalition supporting the legislation are: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Children's Hospital Boston; Childrens Hospital Los Angeles; The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; The University of Colorado Denver and The Children's Hospital; St. Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine; C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, University of Michigan; Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Children's Memorial Medical Center, Chicago.

SOURCE Coalition for Pediatric Medical Research
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