New ALS Model is Based on Human Cells from Autopsied Tissue

By isolating cells from patients’ spinal tissue within a few days after death, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have developed a new model of the paralyzing disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). They found that during the disease, cells called astrocytes become toxic to nerve cells — a result previously found in animal models but not in humans. The new model could be used to investigate many more questions about ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.


Coalition of Biomedical Researchers Backs Obama on Science

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama presented the United States with a vision of a better future through investment in education, infrastructure, and research. The president noted that fifty years ago American innovation played a pivotal role in the nation’s history and today holds promise for addressing the many challenges the country faces. “Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success,” he said during his State of the Union address, calling for investments in biomedical research, education, information technology and clean energy technology [1].

President Obama: Prioritize Science and Health in 2011

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided $10 billion for biomedical research, including support for scientific research priorities, extramural construction/repairs/alterations, capital equipment, National Institutes of Health (NIH) buildings and facilities, and comparative effectiveness research [1].

This investment in the future of America’s health has revitalized the biomedical research community. Indeed, in June, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Recovery Act drove a record number of NIH grant applications. The stimulus package provides available funds for two years, through September 2010.


This Thanksgiving, Research!America — the nation’s largest non-profit public education and advocacy alliance for discoveries in health — urges everyone to Thank President Obama for Reprioritizing Science and Health. Before year’s end, the President will decide what funding to recommend for NIH. Research!America provides a pre-formatted letter that thanks President Obama for his recommitment to science and urges him to continue making science and health a priority in 2011.

There has been a trend of flat or below-inflation funding for the NIH since 2003. Investment in biomedical research will lead to new medical breakthroughs and discoveries that will benefit everyone by helping to fight disease and improve the quality of life for everyone in America.

Please take a moment to email President Obama and urge him to continue prioritizing science and health in 2011.


  1. NIH’s Role in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). National Institutes of Health. 2009 March 6.

Recovery Act Drives Record Number of NIH Grant Applications

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, 2009. It included significant support for biomedical research. As part of the Recovery Act, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) designated at least $200 million for a new initiative in fiscal year 2009 – 2010 called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research (RC1). The initiative is designed to fund approximately 200 grants. Earlier this week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that the NIH has received approximately 20,000 Challenge Grant applications through the Recovery Act [1].


By way of comparison, the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) reviewed 27,360 Research Project Grants (R01s) and 9,483 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants (R21s) for the entire year of 2008 [2]. Over the next few months, the CSR will check the submitted Challenge Grant applications for compliance and then review them in a two-phase process. Reviewers with expertise in the specific Challenge Areas (listed below) will do the first phase reviews, followed by a study section comprised of researchers who will focus on each application’s overall significance and impact. The earliest anticipated start date for those grants funded is September 30th, 2009.

U.S. Encourages Evidence-based Medicine in Economic Stimulus

Last week, I implored you to urge your congressional members to Support Biomedical Research in the Economic Stimulus Package. The message was clearly received as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which President Obama signed today, includes $10 billion USD for biomedical research into cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease. The stimulus bill also includes significant support for updating U.S. healthcare systems and over a billion dollars for evidence-based medicine research.