Monday, January 8, 2018 – The Senate Appropriations Committee, in its recently marked up FY 2018 bill and report, has approved a significant increase in infectious disease research funding and called for further DOD investments in infectious disease research and new partnerships with research universities with infectious disease expertise.
The Senate Committee included $240 million in its core Defense Health Research Program and called on DOD to allocate these resources to research in infectious diseases of concern to the military such as malaria, and other emerging infectious diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya, SARS, H1N1, Ebola and Zika. These diseases are seen by the Congress and the military as posing a significant and growing “threat to the strategic access and operational effectiveness of forces deployed outside the United States.”
The Committee encouraged DOD to include in its infectious disease research investments in “chemoprophylaxis, surveillance, novel approaches to vaccine development and other countermeasures.” Additional funding for infectious disease research is also included under the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP), which was funded at $300 million.
The Committee also directed the DOD’s Defense Health Program to partner with research universities with particular expertise in emerging infectious diseases and vaccine development. The University of Hawaii’s Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious
Diseases (PCEID), a client of The National Group, urged the Hawaii Congressional Delegation and the Senate Committee to add this direction to DOD to its FY 2018 report, which was done.
The University of Hawaii’s PCEID has strong infectious disease research team that has been working on tropical emerging infectious diseases for many years, including Dengue, Ebola and Zika. The State of Hawaii has had outbreaks of Dengue in recent years and with the many military installations and formerly deployed and soon-to-be deployed warfighters located in the State, PCEID is in an important forward position to assist the military in infectious disease research.
The National Group, representing PCEID, brought to the attention of DOD medical research officials at Walter Reed Medical Center and Fort Detrick, MD, the strengths of the PCEID research team in visits to those installations in November, 2017. As a result of those meetings, negotiations among PCEID, Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, and Walter Reed Medical Center on an infectious disease research partnership are underway, as the Senate Committee report language encourages.
The National Group, on behalf of PCEID, lobbied for inclusion of additional monies for emerging infectious disease research in both the core DOD Health Research program an the PRMRP, and for the university partnership report language, all of which was
Actual language from the Senate Committee’s FY 2018 report is below:
SENATE DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program.—The Committee recommends $300,000,000 for the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program. The Committee directs the Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the Service Surgeons General, to select medical research projects of clear scientific merit and direct relevance to military health. Research areas considered under this funding are restricted to: acute lung injury, Alzheimer’s, antimicrobial
resistance, arthritis, autism, burn pit exposure, cardiomyopathy, cerebellar ataxia, chronic migraine and post-traumatic headache, chronic pain management, congenital heart disease, constrictive bronchiolitis, diabetes, dystonia, eating disorders, emerging infectious diseases, endometriosis, epidermolysis bullosa, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, Fragile X, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, gulf war illness, hearing restoration, hepatitis B and C, hereditary angioedema, hydrocephalus, immunomonitoring of intestinal transplants, inflammatory bowel diseases, interstitial cystitis, lung injury, lupus, malaria, metals toxicology, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, musculoskeletal disorders, myotonic dystrophy, 207 neurofibromatosis, non-opioid pain management, nutrition optimization, orthopedics, pancreatitis, Parkinson’s, pathogen-inactivated blood products, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, pressure ulcers, pulmonary fibrosis, reconstructive transplantation, respiratory health, Rett syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, sleep disorders, spinal cord injury, spinal muscular atrophy, sustained-release drug delivery, tinnitus, tissue regeneration, tuberculosis, tuberous sclerosis complex, vascular malformations, vision, and women’s heart disease. The Committee emphasizes that the additional funding provided under the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program shall be devoted only to the purposes listed above.
Medical Defense against Infectious Disease.—The Committee recognizes the importance of prevention and treatment of naturally occurring infectious diseases and tropical infectious diseases, such as malaria, Dengue, and Chikungunya viruses. These diseases pose a significant threat to the strategic access and operational effectiveness of forces deployed
outside the United States. The Committee is concerned with the Department’s decisions over recent years to precipitously decrease funding for malaria research and encourages the Department to address these diseases of military importance and invest in research for chemoprophylaxis, surveillance, novel approaches to vaccine development, and other countermeasures. The Committee urges the Department to partner with colleges and universities that have strong research programs in infectious diseases, as well as other Federal agencies, foreign governments, international agencies, and non-profit organizations to mitigate duplication of effort and maximize the use of Department resources. Additionally, several emerging infectious diseases have taken the global community by surprise over the last few decades, including SARS, H1N1, Ebola, and Zika. Disease surveillance, rapid detection, outbreak response, and epidemiology are essential to providing an early warning of emerging infectious disease threats to servicemembers abroad and global health security in general. The Committee recommends $240,000,000 for core Defense Health Program research and encourages the Department to continue its investments in neglected and infectious diseases.