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January 23, 2017

21st Century Cures Act: Comments on the Collins NEJM editorial

Please have a look at the editorial, "The 21st Century Cures Act - A View from the NIH," in the New England Journal of Medicine ( N Engl J Med 2017; 376:111-113).

Now that the 21st Century Cures Act has passed and Francis Collins has been asked to stay on at National Institutes of Health (NIH), and despite the opposition of Health and Human Services secretary designate Tom Price, this bill should have a significant positive impact on our research, clinical investigation, and cancer care activities across our center.

The bill offers important support for appropriations specifically to the National Cancer Institute for the Cancer Moonshot initiative that weighs more heavily than any other designated program - $1.8B over the next seven years. 

The data sharing and privacy clarifications will encourage us to develop more efficient and consistent approaches to data storage so that more researchers can assemble and use data after publication.

This, with the newly formalized final rule for patient samples, avoided a restriction that would have "required that research involving nonidentified biospecimens be subject to the Common Rule, and that consent would need to be obtained in order to conduct such research." [See: Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects: webpdf]

There is a call-out for support for early-stage investigators including newly independent scientists, especially women and those from underrepresented groups.  There will be additional support for the precision medicine initiative, an area we have yet to benefit from, although we should be competitive given our large patient populations. 

This is a time to redouble efforts to seek NIH funding, to be creative, collaborative, and to develop innovative approaches to unanswered questions in your research area.

The Cancer Center will continue to be a forum for your ideas and will continue to offer pilot grant support - but you need to develop those next big ideas - and expect support locally and from NIH.