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JDF Washington Report
Vol. I, No. 9, October 2, 1998

Final Appropriations Bill Expected Within 2 Weeks

Copies of your letters in response to the September 15 Legislative Alert have been streaming into the JDF Government Relations office. Thank you for your strong response, and if you have not yet written your letters, there is still time to do so. See http://www.jdfcure.org/advocacy/alert091598.html for more information.

A final appropriations bill is likely to be negotiated sometime within the next two weeks. The legislation will specify how much funding will be allocated for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The funding in the bill will then be allocated to particular scientific and disease-related areas over the next year by the NIH and its advisory committees.

Fortunately, diabetes research stands to get a large increase in funding because the Administration, earlier in the year in its original budget request following the State of the Union speech, proposed that diabetes research receives the largest funding increase of all diseases. See http://www.jdfcure.org/NIHCHRT.html for a chart illustrating the breakout of NIH funding increases by disease based on the Administration’s proposed budget for NIH.

We will continue to emphasize the importance of diabetes researchand the extraordinary opportunities available in the fieldto NIH as it allocates what we hope to be the largest increase in medical research funding in the history of the agency.

NIH Diabetes Research Working Group Holds Meeting

The NIH Diabetes Research Working Group (DRWG) met on September 23 to discuss its upcoming report to Congress containing recommendations on how to develop a path to a cure for diabetes. The report is now expected to be released in the early part of 1999. The report will highlight some of the extraordinary opportunities in diabetes research and is expected to provide a recommendation on what resources are necessary to take advantage of each research opportunity.

JDF Government Relations Committee Member Emily Spitzer serves on the DRWG and JDF Communications Committee Chairman S. Robert Levine, MD, serves as an ad hoc consultant with group.

JDF Invited to NIH Director’s Meeting on Allocation of NIH Funds

On September 23, Carol Lurie, who helped found JDF, represented the Foundation as a member of a special panel organized by NIH Director Harold Varmus to discuss increasing public participation in NIH activities.

The panel was formed following the issuance of a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) which recommended, among other things, increased public participation in the NIH decisionmaking process relating to allocation of funds. The IOM panel also called on NIH to give more attention to the burden of disease when determining how much funding should go to particular areas. JDF testified before the IOM panel last April. For more information on JDF’s response to the IOM report, see http://www.jdfcure.org/govrel/statement070898.html.

Congressional Diabetes Caucus Holds Diabetes Research Briefing

The Congressional Diabetes Caucus, in concert with JDF and ADA, sponsored a lunch briefing on September 24 for Congressional members and staff to discuss the current state of diabetes research. C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., and Gordon Weir, M.D., both of the Joslin Diabetes Center, spoke at the event about diabetes research opportunities. Dr. Kahn provided an overview about diabetes and the congressionally mandated Diabetes Research Working Group (DRWG). Dr. Kahn chairs the DRWG, which is expected to release its report in early 1999.

Dr. Weir spoke about research opportunities in the field of islet cell transplantation, which is a key component of the new JDF Center for Islet Cell Transplantation at Harvard Medical School. For more information about the new center, see http://www.jdfcure.org/pubinfo/news091098.html and for more information about Dr. Weir’s work in islet cell transplantation, see http://www.jdfcure.org/pubinfo/weir.html.

Senator Domenici (R-NM) Expresses Support for JDF and the Walk

We are very pleased that Senator Pete Domenici, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, made the following speech on the Senate floor on Monday, September 28, regarding his involvement with the JDF New Mexico Chapter’s Walk to Cure Diabetes and his support for finding a cure.

JUVENILE DIABETES FOUNDATION 'WALK TO CURE DIABETES'
(Senate - September 28, 1998)
[Page: S11019]

Mr. DOMENICI. Madam President, on September 26, people all across America joined in the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation's 'Walk to Cure Diabetes.'

Today, approximately 16 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Heart and kidney disease, strokes, blindness, loss of limbs, and nerve damage are just some of the complications associated with this dread disease. An estimated 179,000 people die from this deadly disease and its complications every year. Unfortunately, diabetes rates are growing worldwide.

I rise today to commend the 'Walk to Cure Diabetes,' which is an effort to increase public awareness about this disease and to raise private sector funding for the search for a cure.

In Albuquerque, my hometown, hundreds of New Mexicans participated in the 'Walk to Cure Diabetes.' They joined thousands of Americans who walked and ran to raise more than $40 million to support research for better diagnosis, treatment and, ultimately, a cure to diabetes.

I am heartened by the fact that participation in this grassroots effort is growing in New Mexico, where diabetes hits especially hard among our American Indian and Hispanic people. Among these populations, this disease is exacting a devastating toll.

I would like to thank the 'Team Domenici' runners, most of whom are associated with Albuquerque's Mountainside YMCA, who will represent my support for this endeavor. These 'Walk to Cure Diabetes' team members included: Mary Howell, Chris Howell, Loretta Koski, Rosanna Thomas, Kim Babb, Loren Schneider, Mike Green, Chrissy Dukeminier, Becky Voccio, Stephanie Browne, Carole Smith, Jim Hughes, Debby Baness, and Lisa Breeden.

Where the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and other organizations work to shore up private sector support, I am pleased that Congress and the administration have strengthened the federal government's investment in diabetes treatments and the search for a cure.

When we negotiated the five-year Balanced Budget Agreement in 1997, I was pleased to have initiated $30 million annually for a five-year Indian Health Service (IHS) diabetes treatment effort aimed at American Indian populations where diabetes rates are almost three times the rate in the general population. We also provided another $150 million over five years for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for a similar effort aimed specifically at juvenile diabetes. [JDF Editor’s note: $135 million of the $150 million is allocated to the NIH, and $15 million is allocated to the CDC. All of the funds will be used for Type 1 diabetes research.]

As part of these national efforts, new resources will be put toward understanding Type 1 diabetes, which adversely afflicts thousands of young Americans. This form of diabetes occurs when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are inexplicably destroyed.

This infusion of federal resources will also allow the IHS and CDC to establish a Diabetes Prevention Research Center in Gallup, N.M., to develop coordinated preventative efforts to help control the growing number of diabetes cases among American Indians.

Dr. Gerald Bernstein of the American Diabetes Association has reported that the gene that predisposes a person to diabetes is five times more prevalent in American Indians than in whites, and twice as prevalent in blacks, Hispanics and Asians than in non-Hispanic whites. In the 1950's, the IHS officially reported negligible rates of diabetes among Navajo Indians. In less than 50 years, diabetes has gone from negligible to rampant and epidemic.

In part, the diabetes problem in the United States can be helped by lifestyle changes among those people predisposed to the disease. A concerted effort is needed to teach people how proper nutrition, early detection and treatment can help save lives. This will not be easy. In the case of Navajo and Zuni Indians, for example, prevention can be difficult to incorporate into daily reservation life. Exercise programs may not be readily available, dietary changes may be contrary to local custom for preparing foods, or soft drinks may be routinely substituted for drinking water that is not plentiful or potable.

These kinds of factors in Indian life will be studied carefully at the Gallup Diabetes Prevention Research Center. Recommendations and CDC assistance will be provided to IHS service providers throughout the Navajo Nation, the Zuni Pueblo, and other Apache and Pueblo Indians in New Mexico and Arizona. The improved diagnostic and prevention programs will flow from this Gallup center to all IHS facilities around the country.

Through these efforts we hope diabetes rates will drop, and not continually increase as they have for the past four decades. The number of U.S. diabetes cases reported annually between 1980 and 1994 has risen steadily, from 5.5 million cases to 7.7 million cases. The number of diagnosed cases is up from 1.6 million Americans in 1958.

The human toll is devastating and the medical costs of treating diabetes will continue to escalate unless our medical and prevention research efforts are more successful. While we still have not found a cure for diabetes, enough is known today to significantly control the negative end results of diabetes like blindness, amputation, and kidney failure.

The 'Walk to Cure Diabetes' has been helpful in raising public awareness of the growing diabetes problem. I am pleased that we in the Senate join this effort through federal funding, policy initiatives and moral support.

Madam President, I would encourage my colleagues to note the 1998 'Walk to Cure Diabetes.' It is one step in the American quest to attack this awful disease and improve the situation for all the people who are susceptible to the ravages of diabetes.

[Page: S11020]
END

Juvenile Diabetes Foundation - Government Relations
1400 I Street, NW #500
Washington, DC 20005
1-800-JDF-1VOTE ex. 5 (800-533-1868)
www.jdfcure.org
mthreatt@jdfcure.org

Posted 3 October 1998



                 
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