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Sign-on Letter to Protect the NIH Fogarty International Center

March 20, 2017

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Senate Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Democratic Leader Pelosi:

We the undersigned organizations and individuals urge Congress to reject devastating funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposed under the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 “skinny budget,” released on March 16, 2017. Of grave concern is the targeted elimination of the Fogarty International Center at NIH. This indiscriminate cut jeopardizes life-saving research required to end devastating global diseases like tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS, as well as malaria, dengue, and Ebola.

The Fogarty Center’s central mission is to support training programs and operational research for the next generation of global health scientists, and to foster collaboration between U.S. scientists and their peers abroad. Of particular note is the Fogarty HIV Research Training Program, which builds the multi-disciplinary biomedical, behavioral, and social science research capacity of scientists in the U.S. and abroad in HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention, and care. Since 1988, this program has trained over 2,000 scientists from 100 countries. This program has allowed the U.S. to lead in shaping the global body of knowledge on HIV/AIDS, and support vital research in areas heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS to inform the response globally and in the U.S.

The Fogarty Center is also a leader in funding neglected disease research. For example, the Center has provided $13.1 million in grant funding to TB research over the last 3 years, ranking it one of the top 25 donors of TB research. The elimination of the Fogarty Center would perpetuate a discouraging downward trend in research funding for neglected diseases like TB.

Though the Fogarty Center’s annual budget to achieve such important work is just $70 million, the cost of eliminating it would be large to the American science sector. The President’s FY 18 budget would disrupt over 60 grants on HIV alone, including research focused on the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, HIV epidemiology and surveillance, HIV/TB co-infection, meningitis, and hepatitis C. Fogarty funding for TB research has supported jobs at more than 15 U.S. universities, including the University of Georgia, University of Maryland-Baltimore, Tulane, Baylor, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Boston University, Harvard, University of Minnesota, Berkeley, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Emory. Eliminating Fogarty Center grants would keep American scientists from pursuing vital research to improve the health and welfare of Americans. It would also impede national health security.

Of considerable interest to U.S. national security is the Fogarty Center’s Division of International Epidemiology and Population Studies (DIEPS), which conducts research critical to the development and implementation of domestic and U.S. countermeasures for pandemic influenza and potential bioterror agents. Losing DIEPS would hamper our nation’s ability to respond to emerging public health threats.

Supporting American science is essential. The Fogarty Center allows the U.S. to be a global leader in the pursuit to end HIV/AIDS, TB, and other diseases through robust science. With public health threats such as Zika, Ebola, and drug-resistant TB, the Fogarty Center strengthens both domestic and global health security. Continuing to cut NIH research funding in any form undermines the prospect of achieving desperately needed breakthroughs in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure for these diseases.  We implore Congress to defend against elimination of the Fogarty International Center at the NIH in the President’s FY 18 budget proposal and reject any funding cuts associated with supporting scientific research.

Respectfully submitted,

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