Science Quotable: Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.)


There are over 7,000 known diseases. Treatments exist for 500 of them. Americans have always been an innovative and industrious people. Many breakthroughs across all industries throughout the 20th and 21st centuries were pioneered by Americans. Why then, is there a lack of innovation and movement in healthcare now?


That is the question the 21st Century Cures Initiative seeks to answer. The initiative examines the “discovery-development-delivery” cycle for treatments – the process of how better treatments can get to patients quicker.  Whether it is from medical devices or medicine, treatments for patients suffering from chronic and rare diseases must be discovered on the ground level through basic science, then developed into a practical, usable, and marketable product, and finally delivered to the patients so the treatment may be effectively utilized.


This is not a partisan issue. Getting better treatments to patients quicker is not political, because chronic and rare diseases do not discriminate based on political affiliation.

– Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) writing for The Hill


Climate change initiative headed by billionaires is anything but #RISKYBUSINESS

 Risky Business

Laura Barron-Lopez for The Hill has written a nice article describing the press release of a new report from Risky Business that claims global warming and climate change will cost the USA billions of dollars. Risky Business is a climate change initiative that is headed by Hank Paulson, Tom Steyer (previous posts about him here and here), and for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This is a terrific initiative so take some time and check out the actual report or follow their blog at the Risky Business website here. Great to see some money behind this important cause!

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, billionaire Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warn in a new report that rising sea levels, increasing storm surges and warmer temperatures will cost the U.S. billions if little action is taken to mitigate climate change.


Damages from storms, flooding, and heat waves are already costing local economies billions of dollars—we saw that firsthand in New York City with Hurricane Sandy. With the oceans rising and the climate changing, the Risky Business report details the costs of inaction in ways that are easy to understand in dollars and cents—and impossible to ignore. — Risky Business Project Co-Chair Michael R. Bloomberg

Kids get cancer: support pediatric cancer research #STEPUP


Stephen Crowley writing for The Hill describes in detail the pathetic lack of support and funding for pediatric cancer research over the last decade.

Cancer kills more children in the U.S. than any other disease — more than AIDS, asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and congenital anomalies combined. Yet government funding for pediatric cancer research through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has declined by 30 percent over the last decade, with further significant cuts looming. Even without these cuts, only 4% of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) budget goes to pediatric cancer research.

Crowley is keen to point out that the the National Cancer Institute only uses 4% of its budget for childhood cancer research, and additionally, drug companies do little in terms of pediatric cancer drug development due to low profit potential. That means that we are pushing old drugs with many side effects onto children with cancer, who have the most to lose from these types of chemotherapies.

Despite revolutionary changes in science and technology, the FDA has approved only two drugs over the last twenty years specifically for pediatric cancer, and one-half of all the chemotherapies used for children’s cancers are over 25 years old.

Check out his post for more info, including info on advocacy measures (#StepUp) going on this week and in the near future. Don’t forget to check out the many #STEPUP websites (example here) and support them on twitter.


Are we doing enough to accelerate medical progress?

Short answer: NO!!!

Long answer: this lovely blog post on The Hill by former reps John Porter (R-Ill.) and Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.)

Big points from the article: 

To accelerate innovation, protect health and save lives, policymakers must close the massive gap between the level of funding necessary to advance medical progress and the token funding levels allocated to research over the last several years.

“A majority of Americans agree that basic scientific research that advances the frontiers of knowledge is necessary and should be supported by the federal government, according to polling commissioned by Research!America. And Americans understand that research is important to job creation and economic recovery.  Why doesn’t the federal budget reflect those truths?”

In conclusion, scientists want more funding, Americans AGREE that science is important (my previous post), and that scientists should get more funding, but for some reason… we aren’t getting more funding and the budget doesn’t reflect what the scientists and the people want.  I think we can all see where the holdup is: congress.  

The solution?  From the blog post: It’s time for champions of science to engage the public and their elected representatives, and demand a stronger investment in the research that fuels discovery and innovation. 

Is Dr. Oz selling snake oil? Or just using ‘flowery’ language?


Francie Diep at Popular Science and Elise Viebeck at The Hill summarize the Senate hearing of Dr. Mehmet Oz for promoting weight loss products and the pseudoscience supporting them. While Dr. Oz seems to have good intentions, promotion of pseudoscience by a doctor (a good one from what I hear) smells fishy. Maybe its just the fish oil supplements. Sorry to psgurel, I usually try my hardest to support your fellow Turks!

“I know you feel that you’re a victim, but sometimes conduct invites being a victim,” concluded Sen. McCaskill. “I think that if you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized quite as frequently.”

From article by Chris Morran at the Consumerist