LOS ANGELES (November 22, 2013) After eight years in the making, a bill to strengthen pediatric biomedical research is headed to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law. The legislation, known as the National Pediatric Research Network Act and strongly supported by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, passed the U.S. Senate Thursday night by unanimous voice vote, two days after passing the House of Representatives in similar fashion.
The National Pediatric Research Network Act is bipartisan legislation that aims to accelerate research breakthroughs to develop new treatments and therapies for pediatric diseases and conditions. Championed by Senators Sherrod Brown and Rogers Wicker and Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Lois Capps, Diana DeGette and Peter King, the legislation would apply the well-proven research network approach to pediatrics broadly. The legislation was included in a three-bill package.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a member of the Coalition for Pediatric Medical Research, a group of more than 20 of the nation’s top children’s hospitals that helped lead the push to enact the legislation into law.
“This legislation is a significant win for our nation’s children,” said Brent Polk, MD, director of The Saban Research Institute
and physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “This will provide the National Institutes of Health with the framework to create an unprecedented pediatric-focused research consortium, bringing together the best and brightest institutions and investigators in a cost-effective manner. Ultimately, it is our hope that this legislation will promote research collaborations and resource sharing that accelerate discoveries crucial to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting children and the adults they will become.”
The legislation authorizes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish pediatric research consortia throughout the nation. Each consortium will be investigator-initiated, consist of multiple institutions in a "hub and spoke" arrangement, and be competitively selected through a rigorous peer review process.
The bill does not increase federal spending; rather, it enables NIH to establish the network to maximize the impact of funding committed to pediatric research.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles looks forward to continuing to work with our lawmakers and with the NIH to move forward on implementing the network and to supporting efforts to increase overall federal research funding available for pediatric research. Despite the fact that children make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population, the NIH dedicates only about 5 percent of its annual extramural budget to pediatric research.
In addition to the legislative champions noted above, the legislation counted a number of other Congressional supporters including Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, the Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Pitts Pennsylvania, the Chairman of the Health Subcommittee, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our legislative champions and supporters who have worked so hard over the years to make this a reality, and we look forward to working with our lawmakers on the crucial implementation phase,” said Richard D. Cordova, FACHE, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
To raise awareness of this situation, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is currently supporting the initiative of Research!America—an alliance championing to make health research a higher national priority. By filling out a simple online advocacy form, any individual can join Children’s Hospital in emphasizing the need for continued congressional support of the NIH and pediatric research.
About Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s hospital on the West Coast and among the top five in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.