Category Archives: Ds Government News

Federal Budget Updates Related to Down Syndrome Research

Our Dr. Harpold stays closely connected to and works in the world of research, not only Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, but also relevant research endeavors at a broad scale. Here’s his take on the Federal 2016 Omnibus Budget Bill.

By Dr. Michael Harpold, LuMind RDS Chief Scientific Officer

The just enacted Federal 2016 Omnibus Budget Bill, which includes a $2 billion increase for NIH, represents significantly good news for advancing biomedical research including Down syndrome research.

Over approximately the past decade, the budget for NIH has remained essentially flat, translating to a more than 25% decline in actual NIH “research-buying” power. This has made securing funding for NIH research grants by researchers extremely difficult and, closer to home, created significant challenges in gaining increased NIH funding dedicated to Down syndrome research.

This newly enacted increase in NIH funding will enable funding for more NIH grants as well as significantly increased funding to address Alzheimer’s disease… all potentially good news for Down syndrome research.

In addition to work focused on NIH funding for Down syndrome throughout this year, LuMind RDS contributed to a recent final push for this increased funding, especially Alzheimer’s disease research, through our continuing membership and work together with Leaders Engaged in Alzheimer’s Disease leveraging together 80 member organizations, as a signatory on advocacy letters, which also specifically included Down syndrome reference, to the respective US House and Senate Appropriations committees’ leadership.

Among other important relevant appropriations in this new Federal budget:

  • National Institutes on Aging (NIA) Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research funding will increase to $936 million, a $350 million, or almost 60%, increase above Fiscal Year 2015
  • NIA’s overall funding will increase by $400 million, more than 85% of that for dementia
  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) will have 3.5 million for its Alzheimer’s Disease (brain health) program, and
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding will increase 5%, roughly $90-100 million more than House and Senate appropriators passed earlier this year.

Thank you for the momentum you’ve helped to create to bring the importance of increasing funding for all types of research to the attention of the government.

Please consider continuing to show your support for Down syndrome research with a donation during our Annual Appeal.

21st Century Cures Act Passes in US House – What It Means for Down Syndrome Research

By Dr. Michael Harpold, LuMind RDS Chief Scientific Officer

US_Capitol_SouthThe 21st Century Cures Act, originating and developed out of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been working its way through to a vote in the US House of Representatives. LuMind RDS signed the letter of support organized by National Health Council, in conjunction with our membership with the LEAD Coalition (Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease), which had more than 250 organizations as signatories.

Prior to the vote on the overall Bill in the House of Representatives, there was a problematic “Brat et al. amendment” that had been introduced which would have jeopardized the increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided in the Bill as well as the wide bipartisan support. Through the National Health Council/United for Medical Research, LuMind RDS, along with more than 270 other organizations, signed on in opposition to the “Brat amendment” (http://www.no2brat.com/).

I am quite pleased to update that Friday July 10, 2015, the 21st Century Cures Act passed the US House by 344-77, and the “Brat et al amendment” was defeated by vote of 141-281. Among other aspects that are important for Down syndrome, the Bill increases NIH’s budget by additional $8.75 billion over five years. 

This is good news because the flat (in actuality, significantly declining in real dollars) NIH budget over the past five years or so has had a major impact in reducing the number and size of NIH research grants. The increased funding should increase overall NIH grant applications’ funding success and increased numbers of NIH grants, including hopefully more grants for Down syndrome research.

But before that increase is realized, the Bill needs to now make its way through and pass the Senate… which will be an additional effort for continuing support from the Down syndrome community.

Dr. Harpold Quoted in Education Week Articles on Down Syndrome Research

Education Week HeaderEducation WeekLuMind Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Michael Harpold, was quoted in an article by Education Week on the NIH Down Syndrome Research report.

In the article, titled “NIH Resets Study Plans for Down Syndrome,” author Sarah Sparks summarizes the seven-year research plan, including discussing a greater focus on students in educational settings.

Dr. Harpold is quoted on the report illustrating an emphasis on improving cognition and the interrelationships between educational approaches and research areas. He also acknowledges that funding for research endeavors is a critical factor in progressing research.

Read more comments by Dr. Harpold on NIH’s research plan and read the entire Education Week article here.

Dr. Harpold was also quoted in another article, also on Education Week, discussing DS-Connect, the Down syndrome registry. Read that article here.

 

 

 

RemarkABLE!

The ABLE Act passes!

We are so happy to join in the celebration of the passing of the ABLE Act. After passing house and the senate, President Obama signed the ABLE Act into law on Friday.

Thank you to all the people who worked tirelessly to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, including the politicians who sponsored and voted to pass the bill, members of our community who signed petitions and wrote letters to congress, and all the staff and stakeholders in all the communities for people who advocated for the bill.

A special recognition to Steve Beck, Jr., vice chair of the board of the NDSS, who passed away just before the bill was passed. Steve worked so hard to make the Act a reality.

A big shout-out to Sara Wolff who became one of the faces of the Act representing the Down syndrome community. Here’s Sara giving a speech back in May on the importance of the Able Act.

 

Dr. Harpold Announced as Chair, DS-Connect® Governance Board

A longtime participant in the DS Consortium and DS-Connect® Registry Governance Board, LuMind Foundation’s Dr. Harpold will lead the Board overseeing DS-Connect® as the registry moves into its second year.

Dr. Michael Harpold, chief scientific officer at LuMind Foundation, has accepted an invitation from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve as Chair of the Registry Governance Board for DS-Connect®.

DS-Connect Homepage FullDr. Harpold has been serving as an active representative on the Down Syndrome Consortium, the private-public partnership that worked with the NIH to create DS-Connect®, the Down syndrome registry launched by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) last year. DS-Connect® is a health data registry for people living with a diagnosis of Down syndrome (DS). Dr. Harpold has also been serving as an inaugural member of the DS-Connect® Governance Board.

“Dr. Harpold’s commitment to research in Down syndrome and his contributions to the registry have had a major impact on its success. We are very pleased to have him serve as chair of the DS-Connect Governance Board,” said Dr. Melissa Parisi of NICHD, who serves as director of the registry and Chair of the Down Syndrome Consortium.

Dr. Harpold succeeds Dr. Yvonne Maddox, who served as Deputy Director of the NICHD until her recent appointment to serve as Acting Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities by the NIH Director.

“I am very honored to be asked to serve as the new chair of the DS-Connect® Governance Board and to continue working together with my distinguished fellow Governance Board colleagues, those on the DS-Connect® Operations Board and NICHD as DS-Connect® expands offerings, including launching a Professional Portal for approved researchers, clinicians and health practitioners to access aggregate de-identified data as well as design, develop and undertake important new research and clinical studies,” said Dr.Harpold. “I especially thank Dr. Yvonne Maddox for all of her tireless efforts in making DS-Connect® a reality, and her dedicated leadership as the inaugural chair of the DS-Connect® Governance Board. DS-Connect® represents a long-needed and incredibly important resource for researchers, clinicians and all of the Down syndrome community.”

“Dr. Harpold is a recognized leader in the Down syndrome research community,” said LuMind Foundation Executive Director Carolyn Cronin. “His experience, expertise and willingness to collaborate and connect with researchers, individuals with Down syndrome and families with a loved one with Down syndrome are all valuable assets to our organization and the greater Down syndrome community.”

DS-Connect® is designed to connect its registered participants with information about the larger Ds community, including providing people with Ds and their family members with important knowledge about medical and demographic information, new research findings and treatments and opportunities for participating in new research studies and clinical trials. All the data is kept secure and confidential and registrants have direct control over their information and if or how often they are notified of research opportunities. DS-Connect® currently has more than 2200 people registered.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Down Syndrome Funding Discussion on Senate Floor

Senator Jerry Moran questions NIH about funding for Down syndrome research during Senate Appropriations Hearing on Alzheimer’s disease research.

NIH establishes Down syndrome patient registry

Directly from NIH – A registry connects individuals with Down syndrome with researchers. Read more on the NIH website.
October 26, 2012