Senate Appropriations Hearing for NIH FY 2005
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education held a hearing on April 1 to focus on fiscal year 2005 funding for NIH. NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, accompanied by all institute and center directors, talked about key research advances of the last year by NIH-funded researchers and gave examples of how the NIH Roadmap effort will shape patient-oriented research in the future.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) complimented Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach on a recent talk on imaging and inquired about the early end of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial to study the drug finasteride. Dr. von Eschenbach emphasized that this trial demonstrated a protective effect for prostate cancer and was ended because the clinical end points were met early. The trial has led to another clinical study of the drug's impact on disease virulence.
Senators expressed concern about NIH's reduction of inflationary increases for grantees in subsequent years from 3 to 1.9 percent and wanted to know how this change in a long-standing NIH commitment would affect researchers and the number of new grants funded. Senators asked Dr. Zerhouni to provide more specific information about how budget projections for fiscal year 2006 will have an impact on NIH initiatives.
Institute directors received questions on a number of issues, including research on obesity, complementary and alternative medicine, new technologies, stem cell research, bio-defense, neurodegenerative diseases, kidney disease, macular degeneration, and autism.
Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) continued to return to the issue of stem cell lines and whether the currently available cell lines would be enough for investigators to study and whether these cell lines would be adequate for use in humans. The senators requested a comprehensive report on the "state of the art" of stem cell research to assist the subcommittee in policymaking.
Hearing on HPV and Cervical Cancer
The House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources held a hearing on human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer on March 11. The purpose of the hearing was to examine the latest medical science regarding cervical cancer and ongoing federal efforts to treat the disease and prevent HPV infection.
Dr. Ted Trimble, of NCI's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, discussed the pathology and progression of HPV infection and its relation to cervical cancer and commented on current studies on vaccine development. Witnesses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration described their activities in HPV/cervical cancer surveillance and prevention and in labeling options for condom use. Abstinence education was also discussed as well as the failure of condoms to protect against HPV infection.