Over the weekend, one of the largest supporters of biomedical research in Congress, Arlen Specter passed away. We scientists often complain that Congress just doesn’t understand and won’t support our research as much as we’d like. There are, however congressmen like Specter, who do tirelessly support our cause in the senate. Specter championed the effort to double the NIH budget from 1998-2003 and encouraged the addition of $10 billion in stimulus funding for the NIH in the 2009 Recovery Act.
Specter was also a supporter of human embryonic stem cell research and fought to lift restrictions on federal funding for the work. He was also instrumental in developing the Cures Acceleration Network designed to speed the development of high need cures.
It is always sad to lose someone who devoted their life to the service of our country. It is especially disheartening when it is someone who fought tirelessly for research. Hopefully, someone will fill the void and continue to champion the cause of research in Congress.