ASCO Member Testifies Before Congress Urging Significant Increase in Federal Cancer Research Funding

May 17, 2023

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) continues to urge Congress to robustly fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) in Fiscal Year 2024.

In testimony submitted to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies' on May 17, Association Chair Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO, thanked the subcommittee for its long-standing bipartisan commitment to support federally funded research.

"This strong commitment to scientific discovery will speed the development of innovative treatments and sustain our nation’s position as the world leader in biomedical research," Dr. Pierce wrote. "ASCO appreciates this opportunity to provide fiscal year 2024 funding recommendations that will continue scientific progress our patients depend on."

The Association is asking for Congress to allocate:

•        $50.924 billion for NIH, including $9.988 billion for the NCI.

•        At least $1.5 billion for ARPA-H.

•        $472.4 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC), including $63.4 million for the Cancer Registries Program.

Earlier this year, Dr. Brian Persing, a medical oncologist and hematologist in Mobile, Alabama and Association member, made the same funding requests before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor Health and Human Services and Education.

Like Dr. Pierce did in her written testimony to the Senate, Dr. Persing shared with lawmakers the urgent need for greater investments in cancer prevention, detection, and treatment to both capitalize on past investments and ensure rapid progress against the disease.

“As a practicing oncologist, I have seen the impact this has on patients,” Dr. Persing testified. “A few years ago, NCI funded a trial evaluating the cancer genes of women with breast cancer to determine whether patients were likely to benefit from chemotherapy after surgery. It showed that 60 to 70% of women were considered low risk and did not require chemotherapy. One of my patients, a woman in her 40s, had breast cancer and previously would have been given chemotherapy based on the size of her tumor. Thanks to the trial, we learned she could avoid chemotherapy. She was spared significant toxicity and was able to continue a busy life caring for her two teenage children. Today, she is cancer-free and has completed her hormone therapy.

“While the NCI is the largest funder of cancer research in the world, its funding has not kept pace with inflation and only 14% of life-saving research grants submitted to NCI are able to be funded. With Cancer Moonshot funding ending this fiscal year, increased investment in cancer research is essential to continue to fund these multiyear grants and reach critical Moonshot goals.”