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Washington medical research institutions call on Congress to prevent sequestration cuts

SEATTLE – Feb. 28, 2013 – A group of Seattle’s leading health research institutions have sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to take action to prevent sequestration funding cuts from taking effect on Friday, March 1. The letter was signed by the presidents of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Institute for Systems Biology and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

These critical research institutions are united in their concern for the damaging impact of sequestration on National Institutes of Health funding, their research budgets, the lifesaving research they perform and the jobs they support. Below is the text of their letter:

MEDIA CONTACT
Dean Forbes
206-667-2896
dforbes@fhcrc.org

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Dear Members of Congress,

We are writing to express our concern over the serious consequences of sequestration funding cuts to cancer research institutions, the lifesaving treatments we develop and the jobs and families we support.

Sequestration on March 1 will result in a $1.58 billion, 5 percent cut to National Institutes of Health funding in Fiscal Year 2013. For the many research institutions like Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Institute for Systems Biology and Seattle Children’s Research Institute who depend on NIH funding for a large majority of their budget, the cuts will significantly harm our work, our people and the patients and families we serve.

Research funded by NIH has resulted in huge discoveries in cancer treatments, and sequestration will set us back decades in terms of lost opportunities. Bone marrow transplants, for example, are a life-saving treatment for many cancer patients. The research that led to these discoveries was funded primarily by the NIH. What if that funding had not been there? Today’s advancements in the areas of genomics, personalized medicine, blood diagnostics and immunotherapy bring us to the brink of new, ground-breaking discoveries that will be lost or slowed down. What other treatments and cures will go unrealized if sequestration occurs?

Research projects stretch over many years, and we need predictable funding to fully realize the potential benefits. Sequestration takes predictability away, and it means patients – fighting for their lives both now and in the future – will suffer as a result.

It also jeopardizes the many children and families who are waiting for cures to devastating and life-threatening diseases. Federal funding supports the majority of research done at America’s largest pediatric institutions. With only 6 percent of the entire NIH budget devoted to pediatric medicine and care, sequestration cuts are particularly threatening to our children’s health.

Job cuts and economic impacts are a major concern as well. Nationwide, sequestration is expected to reduce economic activity based on NIH funding by $3 billion. This is unacceptable at a time of slow and uncertain recovery.

We urge you to act, to find room for compromise in the coming days and pass legislation to avoid sequestration.

Sincerely,

Larry Corey, M.D.
President
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Leroy Hood, Ph.D.
President
Institute for Systems Biology
Jim Hendricks, Ph.D.
President
Seattle Children's Research Institute
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.