Congress must fix CRC research funding oversight

The largest source of cancer research funding is through the National Cancer Institute, which Congress appropriated $7.3 billion in 2023. However, many people are unaware that the second largest source of federal funding for cancer research is at the Department of Defense.

In 1992, Congress first provided funding through the DOD to create the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. In 2023, the CDMRP awarded more than $1.5 billion in research grants. This program seeks to fund more high-risk but high-reward research that may fall outside the scope of the National Institutes of Health.

What is also unique is that, unlike the NIH appropriation, Congress determines which diseases and conditions receive dedicated funding. One might think that since colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, it would have dedicated and significant funding; but, while Congress has established eight dedicated cancer programs, including rare cancers, our legislators continue to ignore colorectal cancer.

Certainly, CDMRP funding is not the only area where colorectal cancer seems to be ignored while other medical conditions are high profile. But investing our tax dollars in research should be based on medical needs and scientific merit, not on visibility or legislative pet projects!

This is the year Congress must fix this oversight. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is committed in 2024 to finally getting Congress to include colorectal cancer as a dedicated research program at the CDMRP. Our goal is $20 million. This is a modest goal when you consider in 2023 prostate cancer received $110 million and breast cancer was allocated $150 million, but it is a start. We are certain research results will enable us to build more support in the coming years.

The Alliance will lead the advocacy efforts but will work with other like-minded cancer groups. However, the key to success will be you – people who care about seeing improved treatments and an ultimate cure for colorectal cancer. We will need you and our supporters throughout the country to make their voices heard in Congress through emails, calls, and even visits to congressional offices.

Stay tuned, and we will provide ongoing updates and let you know when and how to make your voice heard. In 2024, we will no longer be ignored in Congress.


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