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President Obama and leading GOP presidential candidate support health research

WASHINGTONDecember 27, 2011Research!America's new national voter education initiative, Your Candidates-Your Health, features responses from President Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on important health research and prevention issues. Among the highlights: both Obama and Gingrich agree that research to improve health and prevent disease is part of the solution to rising health care costs, and boosting investment in medical research creates jobs that benefit a wide variety of industries. Their positions on embryonic stem cell research differ.

"For too long, patients and families have suffered from debilitating, incurable diseases and we know that stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans across the country. I am committed to supporting responsible stem cell research now, and in the future," said President Obama in his response to the questionnaire.

"I strongly support adult stem cell research," said Gingrich. "I will oppose at every turn any process of destroying embryos."

In the area of global competitiveness, Gingrich said, "Considering today's American tax and regulatory systems, it is increasingly likely that the full implementation of the new [scientific] knowledge will first occur outside the United States and be imported by us. This will be tragic for Americans in lost health opportunities, lost jobs and prosperity, and unnecessarily higher healthcare costs."

"To compete for the jobs and industries of our time, we have to make America the best place on earth to do business and out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world," said Obama. "I have called for a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race and sent budgets to Congress that helps us meet that goal."

Obama and Gingrich also responded to questions about support for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, science, technology, engineering and math education, and government investment in health research for military veterans. All presidential candidates were invited to participate.

The responses from Obama and Gingrich largely reflect public sentiment on federal support for research. In new public opinion poll data, a vast majority of Americans (86%) believe investing in health research is important for job creation and economic recovery and (54%) say research is part of the solution to rising health care costs. Seventy-seven percent believe the U.S. is losing its global competitive edge in science and innovation. However, 60% say they are uninformed about their representatives' positions on medical, health and scientific research.

"Unfortunately, many elected officials and candidates have failed to elevate these issues in their campaigns," said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. "The poll underscores Americans' willingness to make research a high priority to address our economic and health challenges."

In other polling data, most Americans say it's important to increase funding for federal health research agencies -- (86%) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), (79%) for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and (75%) for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Americans realize that massive spending cuts for federal agencies like the NIH would move our country in the wrong direction," said Research!America's chair, former Illinois Congressman John Porter. "A strong investment in research will yield more scientific discoveries, boost our global competitiveness and help lower health care costs. We need elected officials who will aggressively support and expand research and development."

Additional findings from the public opinion poll include:

  • 85% think research and innovation is important to their state economy.
  • 48% say there is not enough government investment in health research for the benefit of military veterans and service members.
  • 82% say it's important to conduct medical or health research to eliminate health disparities.
  • 73% believe the federal government should place more emphasis on increasing the number of young Americans who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • 61% favor expanding federal funding for research using embryonic stem cells.


Contact: Suzanne Ffolkes

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