Medical Research: Sustainable Funding for Tomorrow's Cures

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Some physicians, after or during medical school, choose a career path that combines the practice of medicine with a career in medical or scientific research. These physicians are a crucial bridge between the bench and the bedside — between research and patient care. 

Medical research is funded by various entities, including the federal government, patient and disease groups, and industry. A primary source of federal funding for tomorrow’s cures comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). AAMC-member institutions conduct over 60 percent of the extramural research with these NIH funds.  

The NIH is the nation’s primary funder of the medical research behind just about every test, treatment, and cure. The research NIH funds today leads to improved health tomorrow, including almost 3.8 million lives saved by cancer research since 1991, and a 56% decrease in the rate of heart attack deaths per 100,000 people between 1999 and 2020. Additionally, NIH research has led to cutting-edge and life-saving innovations in care and treatment, including cell-based gene therapies for treatment of sickle cell disease, immunotherapies for lung cancer and leukemia, ways to determine the effectiveness of chemotherapy on breast cancer, and advancements in cochlear implants and liver transplants. 

The AAMC and other science, research, and medical organizations have been advocating for increases in NIH funding to grow the U.S. research enterprise and maintain the country’s standing as the world leader in medical research. Sustained, predictable growth in funding for NIH is vital to developing the cures and treatments many Americans need. 

Learn more on the AAMC’s policy and advocacy pages

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