Making the Case for Funding Cancer Research

Cancer leaders explain critical benefits of federal funding to New Hampshire's Congressional delegation.

In this video, Mark Israel, MD, Director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, and Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, describe the importance of federal funding of cancer research in New Hampshire.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the New England Division of the American Cancer Society and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) briefed members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation on June 22 in Nashua to encourage sustained federal funding for cancer research so that progress can continue against a disease that kills an estimated 1,500 people in America each day.

Earlier this year, President Obama's Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal included cuts for research funding at the National Cancer Institute, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and for prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Congress is now considering a budget resolution to establish funding levels for next year.

"We are on the verge of making unprecedented progress that could change the way we prevent and treat cancer in this country, thanks in no small part to previous federal investments in cancer research," said Chris Hansen, president, ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. "Any funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health will jeopardize the innovative research at local cancer centers that has resulted in the dramatic progress we have seen during the past 40 years against cancer."

Cancer research funding in New Hampshire

New Hampshire received 196 grants totaling more than $88 million in NIH funding in 2011. As the only National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, NCCC received half of the funding flowing into New Hampshire. The state's portion comes out of nearly $24 billion in funding for 51,000 research grants nationwide.

"Cancer researchers from all over the world come here to New Hampshire to be part of Norris Cotton Cancer Center because we are a leader in cancer prevention and control research," said NCCC Director Mark Israel, MD. "Our research, from how the smallest molecules behave to how tumors can be detected earlier, helps diagnose, prevent, and treat cancer."

Israel identified multiple examples of how federally funded research conducted in New Hampshire is helping to change practice and policy:

  • As one of nine NCI-designated Centers of Nanotechnology Excellence, NCCC has a $12.8 million grant working with engineers at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College to study nanomaterials and develop nanodevices to diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer.
  • NCCC's cancer control research on the impact of smoking in popular movies aimed at young people helped shaped the policy recommendations in the recent Surgeon General's Report.
  • Medical associations are changing diagnostic and treatment guidelines following the National Lung Screening Trial, which showed that low-dose CT scans can decrease a heavy smoker's risk of dying from lung cancer by 20 percent.
  • As one of five NCI-funded breast cancer registries in the country, NCCC researchers collected data from more than a million mammograms of New Hampshire women. Ultimately, the results will help identify what kind of care is best for women with breast cancer.

At Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, 125 scientists hold more than $65 million in federal funding. Scientists seek grant support each year to cover lab expenses, equipment, and salaries. Dartmouth College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center provide space and keep the lights on, but the science itself is fueled by grants. These grants are highly competitive and won only after intensive peer review.

"Federal support of cancer research has put us on the verge of some incredible breakthroughs, and this work is going on here at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center and other research institutions around the country. We need to bring these potential discoveries to fruition because they will lead to treatments for some of the most deadly cancers," said Hansen. "I am convinced that members of Congress will support funding when they understand this research is benefiting their own constituents, and is being conducted right in their own backyard."

Cancer research supports New Hampshire's economy

Federally funded research has a positive economic impact on communities nationwide. In 2010, NIH grants yielded $68 billion in new economic activity and supported 487,000 jobs across 50 states and Washington, D.C. In the Granite State, NIH awards support 1,396 jobs.

Federal funding for medical research and cancer prevention programs has had a role in every major advance against this disease, resulting in 350 more lives saved from the disease per day than in 1991. Past federal investments have also put the scientific community on the verge of making groundbreaking new discoveries that could accelerate our progress and bring us closer to ending death and suffering from cancer.

June 28, 2012