JPA launches Coalition to Save NIH Funding

The agency, which specializes in healthcare and public affairs, wants organizations to come together to show the importance of NIH medical research funding.

NIH Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland (by NIH, via Wikimedia Commons)
NIH Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland (by NIH, via Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON: JPA Health Communications founded the Coalition to Save NIH Funding after President Trump proposed steep budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health.

The public affairs agency will bring together companies in the health and research fields to support the NIH and educate lawmakers about the importance of investing in biomedical research, said Carrie Jones, principal at JPA.

"We're taking a twofold approach," Jones added. "We’re reaching out to our network of health research, pharma, and biotech companies, along with nonprofit organizations such as patient groups or professional societies. The second approach is broad promotion through social media."

On social media, the coalition is trying to reach a wider audience using hashtags including #research and #innovation.

Trump proposed a $6 billion cut for NIH funding in his proposal, about 20% of the medical research center's total budget. Other science and research bodies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, could also be hit hard by the proposed cuts.

"This president’s budget is not set in stone," Jones said. "Congress still has to go through the appropriations process for fiscal year 2018. The likelihood of it going through with these deep cuts is slim, but it sets a precedent."

Though the budget may change before it is passed, Jones worries the precedent of cutting research funding could "threaten America’s ability to remain a leader in health research and innovation."

Jones would not reveal which organizations were interested in joining the coalition, but said the website received more than 50 signups in the first 24 hours. The agency also promoted the coalition at a Society for Women’s Health Research event, handing out stickers and speaking to scientists about the project.

"We wanted to make sure there was a broad consensus and broad appeal [for the coalition]," Jones said. "It’s unbelievable how enthusiastic people were about the project. One former NIH scientist thought the initiative was a ‘ray of hope.’"

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