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NAEVR Rallies for Medical Research Funding: “More Progress, More Hope, More Life”

The Rally for Medical Research was held in Mount Vernon Square in front of the Washington D.C. Convention Center in the heart of the city. Several surrounding streets were closed to accommodate the crowd.
The Rally for Medical Research was held in Mount Vernon Square in front of the Washington D.C. Convention Center in the heart of the city. Several surrounding streets were closed to accommodate the crowd.
On April 8, NAEVR participated in the Rally for Medical Research, in which researchers and advocates across the United States called on Congress to stop cuts to medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Although the event was held in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and drew thousands of attendees, thousands more at academic institutions across the country watched the event, emailed letters to Congress, and used social media to spread awareness of the impact of funding cuts. NAEVR was one of 200 partner organizations reflecting a variety of disease conditions that participated in hosting the D.C.-based event, at which Members of Congress, patients, and advocates spoke. Between speakers, the crowd chanted “More Progress, More Hope, More Life,” the event’s theme.

Cong. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), an ovarian cancer survivor, spoke passionately about the power of medical research to save and improve lives, while also driving the economy nationally and locally
Cong. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), an ovarian cancer survivor, spoke passionately about the power of medical research to save and improve lives, while also driving the economy nationally and locally
Journalist Cokie Roberts, a breast cancer survivor, served as the emcee. The crowd responded enthusiastically to initial speaker Cong. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the Ranking Member on the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee and an ovarian cancer survivor. After emphasizing the power of medical research to save and improve lives, as well as to serve as a local and national economic driver, Cong. DeLauro stated that “If my Congressional colleagues don’t want to fund medical research based on humanitarian reasons, they can fund it as an investment with a proven track record of economic returns.” Cong. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who serves as the Ranking Member on the House Budget Committee and has the NIH located in his district, focused his comments on the detrimental impact of the 5.1 percent sequester cuts to the NIH. “The House Democrats put forth a plan of spending cuts and revenue increases that would avoid future sequester cuts, but that was not accepted by the [Republican] leadership,” he said. Although they were not in attendance, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), the Ranking Member on the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee, and Cong. David McKinley (R-WV) sent messages of support. Cong. McKinley is a co-sponsor with Cong. Edward Markey (D-MA) of a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter to House leadership urging Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 NIH funding of $32 billion. President Obama also sent a message of support-his FY2014 budget proposal will issue on April 10.

Patient advocates, who spoke about the impact of disease on their lives and that of their families, represented HIV, heart disease, stroke, Alzmeiner’s, leukemia, breast cancer, and diabetes. Advocate Gina Gavlak, who has Type-1 diabetes, spoke about the NIH-funded research that led to the use of laser photocoagulation to treat diabetic retinopathy, thereby preventing blindness. [Note: This research continues through the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research (DRCR) Network.]

Commenting on the Rally, NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky said, “NAEVR was honored to be a partner with the AACR in this historic event which gave a voice to so many around the country who are concerned about medical research funding at the NIH.”

Emcee Cokie Roberts, a breast cancer survivor, leads the crowd in chanting “More Progress, More Hope, More Life,” which was the event’s theme
Emcee Cokie Roberts, a breast cancer survivor, leads the crowd in chanting “More Progress, More Hope, More Life,” which was the event’s theme
The crowd held signs stating “Increase NIH Funding Now” and “Medical Research Saves Lives”
The crowd held signs stating “Increase NIH Funding Now” and “Medical Research Saves Lives”
Gina Glavik, who has Type-1 diabetes, commended NIH for its research that led to the use of laser photocoagulation to treat diabetic retinopathy, thereby preventing blindness.
Gina Glavik, who has Type-1 diabetes, commended NIH for its research that led to the use of laser photocoagulation to treat diabetic retinopathy, thereby preventing blindness
The Jumbotrons located throughout Mount Vernon Square streamed the names of Rally partners, including NAEVR
The Jumbotrons located throughout Mount Vernon Square streamed the names of Rally partners, including NAEVR