Four members of Congress were honored at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). During an evening plenary session on November 2, the legislators received the ASHG’s Public Service Award in recognition, the ASHG announced, of their “extraordinary leadership on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees and their dedication to advancing biomedical research funding, including transformative and novel applications of human genetics and genomics research.”

The four individuals receiving the Public Service Award for their dedication to research funding are:

  • U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX-12)
  • U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03)

On many occasions, the legislators have expressed strong support for biomedical research. For example, last year, at the first-ever Maine Biomedical Research Symposium, Sen. Collins stated, “There simply is no investment we can make that provides greater returns for Americans than our investment in biomedical research. It is not an exaggeration to say that biomedical research improves and changes lives and can change the world.”

Also, at a recent NIH hearing, Sen. Murray stated, “Every day, across Washington state, researchers at the Fred Hutch Center, the University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and so many other world-class institutions are working around the clock and making groundbreaking discoveries. Discoveries that don’t just drive innovation and economic growth but also bring families cures, treatments, and hope for the future—discoveries that save lives.”

For its part, the ASHG is committed to sharing research results through its meetings and publications; advocating for research support; educating current and future genetics professionals, healthcare providers, advocates, policymakers, educators, students, and the public about all aspects of human genetics; and promoting genetic services and support responsible social and scientific policies.

“Now more than ever, biomedical research is driving new understanding of disease and producing new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat disorders that affect millions of Americans,” said ASHG President Brendan Lee, MD, PhD. “This progress for the American people is not possible without robust and sustained federal investment. These four Public Service Award recipients exemplify the bipartisan leadership and support required to address the most pressing health challenges of today, and their work continues a longstanding legacy of bipartisan Congressional commitment to research. ASHG is honored to thank them for their leadership.”

Lee noted that in addition to health benefits, biomedical research is a major driver of economic growth nationally, regionally, and locally. A 2020 ASHG study highlighted the extraordinary economic impact of genomics research and its importance for America’s innovation agenda. It found that, in 2019, genetics and genomics research contributed $265 billion to the U.S. economy and is profoundly shaping major areas of future innovation in science and health. Moreover, public opinion research has found the U.S. public is widely hopeful, curious, amazed, and optimistic about novel genetic research for health.

“We are especially grateful for the support these Members have provided for biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH),” Lee said. “As leaders in both houses, they have consistently worked to increase NIH’s budget by $17 billion over the last eight years, including an increase of $2.5 billion in FY 2023. Thanks to their work and steadfast support, this critical research continues to grow in its reach and implications.”

Founded in 1948, the ASHG is now observing its 75th anniversary. The organization’s community of nearly 8,000 members include researchers, academicians, clinicians, laboratory practice professionals, genetic counselors, nurses, and others with an interest in human genetics.

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