Sen. Harry Reid (c, D-NV) views a model of the Clinical Research Center in the company of hospital director Dr. John Gallin (l) and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.
Photo: Ernie Branson
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) visited NIH on June 17, meeting NIH director Dr. Francis Collins in the Clinical Center and learning about recent advances in NIH science.
Reid learned about the Undiagnosed Diseases Program from its deputy director Dr. Cynthia Tifft. Tifft oversees treatment of pediatric patients in the UDP, and introduced Reid to a family whose daughter has been a UDP patient for the past 4 years.
Reid and four members of his staff were also greeted by CC director Dr. John Gallin, who gave the senator an overview of the hospital. The visit was coordinated by NIH’s Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis.
Reid’s tour, which was just over an hour long, concluded with a meeting with NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci, NINDS director Dr. Story Landis and NHLBI director Dr. Gary Gibbons, who updated the senator on such topics as recent advances in Alzheimer’s disease, progress toward a universal flu vaccine and how sequestration threatens young investigators.
Three days after his visit, Reid summarized his impressions of NIH in a 15-minute address to colleagues on the Senate floor. He touted NIH contributions to the lengthening lifespans of Americans, along with advances in cancer treatment, heart disease and stroke, AIDS/HIV therapy, Alzheimer’s disease and spinal cord injury.
“It would be impossible to count the lives that NIH innovation has already saved,” he said, “and researchers are not close to realizing the limits of modern medicine.”
Reid also condemned the effects of sequestration on NIH: “It’s very, very sad to me that these wonderful people [NIH employees] are dedicating their lives to not how much money they can make, but how much better they can make people feel and what they can do to cure diseases [and are now] looking for other places [to work]…The senseless, meat-ax, unfair cuts that we call sequester puts all NIH does at risk.”
He concluded, “We should reduce the deficit by making smart investments, not by making shortsighted cuts that cause pain, suffering and death. There’s simply no price tag you can put on that.”