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Sen. Menendez Visits Rutgers Cancer Institute to Illustrate Impact of Trump Proposed Budget Cuts on Lifesaving Biomedical Research that Leads to New Cures, Treatments

Sen. Bob Menendez and (l.) Dr. Steven Libutti

New Brunswick, NJ, April 13, 2017 — During a visit yesterday to the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and several of the state’s top biomedical researchers and experts, outlined the devastating impact the Trump Administration’s proposed budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would have on lifesaving biomedical research, and treatments of diseases and neurological disorders.

New Jersey is the nation’s second largest recipient of NIH funding in the nation.

“A budget is a reflection of priorities,” said Sen. Menendez.  “The cuts proposed by the Trump Administration send a message that the research being done right here by some of nation’s most brilliant minds is not a priority.”

“It says the breakthrough discoveries that could potentially help someone like my mother in her fight against Alzheimer’s or give a terminally-ill child a shot at a healthy, happy life – is not worthy of federal investment,” Menendez added.  “That’s not a message I want to send.”

Senator Menendez also tweeted this video of Dr. Steven Libutti, Director of Rutgers Cancer Center of New Jersey, explaining how devastating NIH cuts would be.

To view the full 17-minute video, click here.

President Trump’s proposed budget would reduce NIH funding by $1.2 billion for the remainder of 2017 and impose another $5.8 billion in cuts in 2018.

In 2016, New Jersey received over $240 million in grants and contracts from the NIH, which supported 5,000 jobs across the state and spurring an additional $890 million in economic activity.

Rutgers University is the top recipient of NIH funds in the state, receiving awards totaling $55.8 million in 2016.

In 2016, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey received awards totaling $12.2 million.

“It is a transformational time in cancer research,” said Dr. Steven Libutti, Director of Rutgers Cancer Center of New Jersey.  One where collaboration amongst scientists is at the crux of our progress in cancer care and helping us to achieve greater impact that leads to improved patient outcomes.  Rather than reducing NIH funding we should be increasing it in a sustained way in order not to put our progress in jeopardy.”

Dr. Gary Aston-Jones, Director of the Brain Health Institute, explained how cuts to federal funding would severely hamper their research efforts into debilitating neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders — both today and in the future.

“Not only would these cuts delay new therapies, but also would result in a loss of a generation of neuroscientists and therefore have a long-lasting negative impact on healthcare,” Dr. Aston-Jones said.

“Brain disorders are some of the most devastating health problems,” Dr. Aston-Jones continued.  “The enormous complexity of the brain demands that the best minds and technologies be used to understand and treat brain disorders.  The resources invested in this effort will pay off for generations, and the negative impact from a loss of needed resources would be felt for many years to come.”

In attesting to the importance of funding clinical trials, Dee Sparacio, of Hightstown, shared her personal story of being diagnosed at 49 with state IIIB ovarian cancer.  She was able to take part in a clinical trial at the Cancer Institute which she credits with saving her life.

“There is no greater return on the investments we make in the NIH than the breakthroughs that help Americans lead healthier, happier and more productive lives,” Menendez added.

“Now is the time to invest in science so that America remains the world leader in discovery and innovation,” he continued.  “Now is the time to invest in life-saving cures that will save lives and save billions of dollars in the years ahead, and now is the time for members in both chambers of Congress and in both political parties to stand up and defend federal funding for medical research.”

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey received its designation as a Clinical Cancer Center from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1997 and its designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center from in 2002 — one of only 47 nationwide.

The Rutgers Brain Health Institute (BHI) is the home for university’s neuroscience initiative, consisting of more than 250 principal investigators with neuroscience labs across Rutgers.