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President’s Speech Puts Scientific Funding Concerns in National Spotlight

For Immediate Release
January 29, 2014

Contact: Todd Kluss
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(202) 587-2839

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — echoes President Barack Obama’s State of the Union call for Congress to “undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery.”

January’s Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 set funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $29.934 billion for the rest of the fiscal year. This is a $1 billion increase over funding in fiscal year 2013, yet still about $950 million less than what the NIH received in 2012.

“Our organization, like the president, urges elected representatives to spur innovation in research and protect job-creating investments in science,” said GSA Executive Director and CEO James Appleby, RPh, MPH. “Older adults are the fastest growing demographic segment of this country’s population, and it is vital that we be prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of an aging society.”

In his address, the president specifically referred to vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria. According to GSA’s National Adult Vaccination Program, approximately 50,000 adults die each year in the U.S. as a result of vaccine‐preventable illnesses and their complications. Furthermore, the annual economic burden of influenza in adults accounts for $87.1 billion.

The recent appropriations legislation also included an additional $122 million in funding for Alzheimer’s disease research. The Senate Appropriations Committee bill summary noted that “the total payments for healthcare, long-term care, and hospice for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are projected to increase from $203 billion in 2013 to a staggering $1.2 trillion in 2050. Without a medical breakthrough to prevent, slow, or stop the disease, Medicare and Medicaid costs related to Alzheimer's could rise an estimated 500 percent. Research is desperately needed to bring those costs under control.”

Appleby additionally applauded the president’s focus on investing for retirement.

“Making retirement savings accessible is an important component for the country’s economic growth,” Appleby said. “GSA encourages a continued national dialog that will steer us toward a healthy and financially secure future for all Americans as they age.

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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.

 

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