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U.S. Rep Tom Cole: Increased investment in the National Institutes of Health is a critical national priority


Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole is a dedicated leader in the fight in Washington D.C. for sustained increases in federal funding for biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health. U.S. Rep. Cole, Chairman of the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, speaks candidly to Amazing Things about the promise of medical innovation, the scourge of disease and the critical importance of America’s investment in biomedical research.


“One of the big problems we’ve had in recent years is when that NIH budget doesn’t grow. You’re really sending a message to younger researchers, “There’s not a future for you,” and as hard as it is to do this kind of work, if you don’t have a future, most people don’t get in it just to teach. They want to do cutting edge research. 

You’ve got to provide that opportunity if you’re gonna have the workforce that you need not only to deal with chronic illnesses, but to have what you need honestly when you have something like an Ebola or Zika or, you know, the biosphere’s gonna throw some things at you, and you have to have a robust infrastructure to deal with those things, and that means you’ve got to get up every year and do the hard work, not just, you know, once a decade or so, we’ll throw it a little extra money and think that does it. You really need a process of sustained growth over time.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)

“We’re spending over $187 billion a year in Medicare and Medicaid, and then about another $70 billion beyond that in other areas, looking after Alzheimer’s patients. That cost is gonna go to over a trillion by 2050. It literally will break the budget. 

Why wouldn’t you spend some money to try and get ahead of that problem? I mean, you’re gonna have to, so it’s really not only the humane thing to do, and that’s the way most people would look at it. That’s a dreaded disease and actually for people over 50, they are actually more afraid of Alzheimer’s than they are of cancer, even though they contract cancer at a much higher rate. As I said, I can turn to the most green eyeshade republican and say, “Here’s what it’s gonna cost you if we don’t make these investments now.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)

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