In Washington, DC, yesterday thousands of protestors from the biomedical and patient activists communities drew attention to the stagnation of funding for biomedical research and the negative impact of the sequester, and urged that money that has been lost over the last decade be restored to the National Institutes of Health.
"Funding medical research is a no-brainer when it comes to our national interests," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (D - Md.) according to an article posted in USA Today. "Let's make sure we have more progress, more hope and more lives."
The event's organizers said they are seeking at least $32 billion for NIH in next year's budget, which would be an increase of around $1.3 billion over this year's funding. They also said that the automatic sequestration cuts have whacked the NIH budget down from the initial $31 billion to around $29 billion, according to the USA Today item.
The Hill also covered the rally, and aims its focus on the statements of Van Hollen and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D - Conn.).
"We need to make it clear to my colleagues exactly what these cuts mean for the health of America's families," DeLauro said in her statements to the crowd, The Hill reports. "When they see a grassroots movement rising up, from doctors, from scientists, from advocates and patients, you are impossible to ignore … You need to overwhelm the institution with your voices."
Science's Jocelyn Kaiser notes that NIH Director Francis Collins had been billed to speak at the event but was a no-show. She pointed out that while "federal employees cannot participate in lobbying activities, Collins was initially going to speak as a private citizen, according to sources, but ultimately cancelled."
She also cites American Association for Cancer Research CEO Margaret Foti as saying that for a while during the event tweets with the hash tag #RallyMedRes were rated second only to tweets about former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's death.