Congress is considering a bipartisan bill to extend and increase funding for childhood cancer research – without the need for taxpayer investment.
It’s not every day we get the chance to support bipartisan legislation to speed up research for cures to childhood cancer. So we at Bridge To A Cure are excited to support the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0.
In 2014, Congress passed the original Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Act to fund a 10-year program to advance research into rare childhood diseases. The legislation has provided $88 million of non-taxpayer funding to the National Institutes of Health over seven years.
With this funding, NIH established the very successful Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First), which has funded many important studies into the genetic basis of childhood cancers and structural birth defects. The legislation is expected to provide another $38 million before it expires.
With the current law set to sunset before long, we need to extend and expand it to keep dollars, data and momentum flowing in the fight against childhood cancer. The Gabriella Miller Kids First 2.0 legislation will do that (learn more and sign a petition to Congress in support of it here.)
The bill would greatly increase funding for childhood cancer research through the NIH without using any taxpayer dollars. It would do this by channeling the funds paid by companies that break the law directly into critical medical research.
As Congress continues partisan battles on many fronts, the Gabriella Miller Kids First 2.0 enjoys wide bipartisan support with more than 40 representatives and seven senators cosponsoring it. More than 250 foundations and organizations —including Bridge To A Cure Foundation — plus more than 1,200 advocates in all 50 states have signed a letter of support for the new legislation.
The bill’s chief advocate is Ellyn Miller, Gabriella’s mom. At age 9, Gabriella was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable brain tumor deemed terminal upon diagnosis. Gabriella quickly became a global advocate for children with cancer.
Less than a year after her diagnosis, Gabriella passed away. An interview filmed two weeks before her death led to her name being added to the first act allocating $126 million for childhood disease research.
Now the Gabriella Miller Kids First Act 2.0 legislation is working its way through Congress, and Bridge To A Cure is joining other partners in urging the public to support it. The new legislation strongly supports the third pillar of our action plan, to implement a new approach to childhood cancer research funding and increase funding allocated for research.
This is critical when we consider that cancer remains the single leading cause of death by disease among American children, yet currently only 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.9 billion budget goes towards development of cures and treatments for childhood cancer. Because of limited research in the past 30 years, only four drugs have been developed exclusively to treat childhood cancer.
The new legislation is a also an important key to creating a national childhood cancer database, number one on Bridge To A Cure’s action plan. Funding from the legislation will help to develop a truly comprehensive shared-data resource for scientists researching the majority of pediatric cancers and structural birth defects; it will also support development of computational tools to analyze these very large, complex genomic and clinical data sets.
The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 (HR 623) was introduced on Jan. 28 of this year by representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10) and Tom Cole (R-OK4). In April, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced a bipartisan Senate companion bill (S 1521). Both would take penalties that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission collects from pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food supplement, and medical device companies that violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and redirect them to critical research into rare pediatric diseases. Under the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0, these penalties would be perpetually designated for childhood cancer and disease research, instead of going into general treasury as they do now.
Join us in calling on Congress to pass the Gabriella Kids First Research Act 2.0. Learn more and sign the childhood cancer community letter of support at the Bridge To A Cure Foundation Kids First 2.0 landing page.