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National Medical Research Day: Celebrating the Importance of ARRA Funding for Iowa and Beyond

Sarah England

National Medical Research Day, sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges, was held on October 21, 2009. The event celebrated the importance and impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and biomedical research. ResearchMeansHope.org, a community of concerned patients, physicians, and researchers from U.S. medical schools throughout the country, hosted a press conference on National Medical Research Day in Washington, D.C. The group commended the efforts of President Obama, Congress, and taxpayers alike for contributing ARRA funds to medical research, and encouraged annual budgetary increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fuel future research endeavors.The event, hosted by Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and chair of the ResearchMeansHope.org campaign, included a variety of representatives from young patients to researchers and stakeholders.

We spoke with Paul Rothman, Dean of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, on National Research Day and inquired about the future of ARRA and NIH funding, "In future years out, the hope is that we can demonstrate that that level of increased funding to NIH would do good things...and demonstrate to Congress and the President that the level of increased NIH funding would be money well spent." Offering an example of money well spent, Dean Rothman said that at least 190 local jobs were created out of the $32 million NIH dollars received by the Carver College of Medicine which has led to a stimulus in the local economy. The funding also supports critical research projects throughout the University and in the College of Medicine that will ultimately translate into important discoveries that will prevent illness and cure disease. ARRA funding supports a broad range of research projects from basic research and clinical trials, to training basic scientists and strengthening research infrastructure. Dean Rothman believes that the funding will stimulate important research projects and allow UI Healthcare to provide new types of therapeutics, drugs, interventions, and clinical trials. View Dr. Rothman talking about the strategic plan.

Sarah England, Ph.D., professor of molecular physiology and biophysics and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Iowa, is a recipient of a two-year ARRA grant. Dr. England explained that her research aims at improving reproductive health and pregnancy-related problems like pre- and post-term labor. She said, "We're interested in seeing how to relax the uterus so a woman can go to full term." This is important research because many women come to UI Health Care with conditions that result in early labor, "You can go up to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and see that a lot of these kids have long term health defects," Dr. England said. She is inspired to conduct research that will make these kids healthier and credits the federal funding for enabling her to hire more people, work more quickly, and find results faster. Click here to watch Dr. England talking about her team's research in her lab.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have received 103 NIH grants. Combined with awards from other federal granting agencies, UI faculty, staff and students have received a total of $52 million over the next three fiscal years. For a complete list of these grants, visit the Office of the Vice President for Research website.

Stimulus dollars also help strengthen America's biomedical research infrastructure on a national level. According to Dean Rothman, "We are the leaders in the world as far as biomedical research goes and this [federal funding] helps sustain that by really supporting an area where America is achieving greatness." View a White House link of NIH Director Francis Collins explaining the nationwide impact of ARRA biomedical research funding - including how it works and why it's important.

Publish Date: 
Friday, October 30, 2009 - 06:53