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Reduced Funds for Cancer is Cost of Iraq, Say Ex-White House Aide, Cancer Researchers

WASHINGTON, April 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An ex-White house aide, Robert Weiner, and Dr. Patricia Berg, director of a GWU Medical Center breast cancer lab, are reporting that many scientists believe that "the cost of the Iraq war is largely responsible for a drop in real dollars for cancer research, and private organizations, though critical, are a pale substitute for the power of the federal government." Discoveries are being lost due to "the high funding bar."

Weiner and Berg just returned from the annual national meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), attended by 17,000 cancer researchers from throughout the U.S. and the world.

In a commentary in today's San Diego Union Tribune, "TOO FEW FUNDS TO FIGHT CANCER," Weiner and Berg report that "the underlying buzz all around the San Diego meeting was, Where is the Federal Government?"

They state, "physicians and researchers are making discoveries shattering the old death sentence of cancer -- the death rate has declined 2% a year since 2002. Still, 1500 Americans die a day from cancer, and one in two men and one in three women will develop cancer during their lives, according to new figures from CDC."

The authors contend, "It is tragic that private volunteer organizations have to scramble to pick up the pieces of the federal government, who with all its power, could be driving scientists closer to curing this dread disease."

NIH has lost 2% of its budget to inflation in real dollars every year for the last seven years, a 14% decline.

Weiner asked Ellen Sigal, Chairperson of Friends of Cancer Research in Arlington, VA, and the chair of a forum at AACR on alternative funding mechanisms, why there is the drop in federal funds. She responded, "We have a deficit and a war." Weiner argues, "If funding potential disease cures is the price of Iraq, it is no wonder that 70% of Americans oppose the war in the scheme of priorities."

NCI now funds fewer than 10% of requested research projects, down from 25% a decade ago.

"Cancer scientists share the blame," the writers assert. When Weiner asked why the "professional consensus" at NCI is only requesting a $1 billion increase for 2009, AACR expert panelists gave two reasons: "complacency" and a feeling of "the limits of entitlement. Scientists should show the same vision in their funding requests from government as they do in their search for disease cures," the authors argue. "Wouldn't we rather see additional costs for visionary medical cures for cancer than a war causing cancer to our economy?"

Link to printed article:

Contact: Bob Weiner/Rebecca VanderLinde 301-293-0821 or 202-329-1700

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates
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