Advancing new drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools was part of Barack Obama's campaign platform. It's a big promise that will likely take years to complete, but Obama has taken steps to fulfill this goal.
First, in May 2009, Obama lifted a ban on stem cell research funding, one that had long been in place under the Bush administration. Medical experts complained that the ban stymied cutting-edge medical research.
Secondly, a significant chunk of funding was allocated for such research and development in the stimulus bill. The legislation included about $100 billion for the development of science and technology, $10 billion of which was given to the National Institutes of Health. In September 2009, the administration announced that $5 billion of that $10 billion in funding would be divvied up to support 12,000 research projects in the area of biomedical research. For example, about $750 million of the funding has been invested in advanced research on the prevention and treatment of heart, lung and blood diseases.
Meanwhile, cancer research got a boost in the latest appropriations process. The National Cancer Institute was funded to the tune of $5.1 billion, an increase of $134 million over the previous year. The funding increase reflects Obama's multiyear plan to advance cancer research and treatment.
So, Obama said he would accelerate the development of important drugs, vaccines and tests, and he's taken some key steps in that direction. However, this is a big promise, and we'll be eager to see where Obama heads on this one. For now, we're moving it to In the Works.