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NIH Dismisses DRWG

The following is a message from Steve Smith, Chairman of ADA's Government Relations Committee and a lay member of the Diabetes Research Working Group (DRWG):

I am writing to you about a disturbing development in our effort to have Conquering Diabetes, the final report of the DRWG, implemented.

This report recommends a five-year plan to attack diabetes. It lists hundreds of scientific projects that need funding. It also calls for an $827 million budget, which is needed to fully fund diabetes research this year.

This research plan presents our greatest hope for significant advance in the quest for a cure.

On Thursday, May 6, I testified at a special US Senate hearing on how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends its multi-billion dollar budget. I urged Congress to push for the full funding needed to implement the DRWG Research Plan.

After the hearing, I spoke privately with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). The NIH Director, Dr. Harold Varmus, soon became involved in the conversation. Dr. Varmus challenged the DRWG Research Plan and the need to provide the full funding needed to implement it.

Specifically, Dr. Varmus (1) Challenged the report's scientific recommendations as justification for an $827 million diabetes research budget; (2) Stated that diabetes research is adequately funded by NIH; and (3) Indicated that he would not fully implement the DRWG Research Plan.

Dr. Varmus is a distinguished man known worldwide for his scientific accomplishments and leadership at NIH. But his comments appear to discount the work of the noted diabetes experts who met for over a year to compile the DRWG Research Plan. His comments also seem to challenge the report's finding that NIH's commitment to diabetes research is "trivial."

Based upon my interpretation of our conversation, I have concluded that (1) Despite our best efforts, Dr. Varmus still does not recognize the seriousness of diabetes; (2) Despite being written by the world's leading diabetes experts, Dr. Varmus does not embrace DRWG's scientific or funding recommendations; (3) The House and Senate Appropriations Committees must forcefully insist that NIH implement the DRWG Research Plan.

Our advocacy has resulted in 39 Senators and 271 Representatives supporting the DRWG Research Plan and the $827 million needed to implement it. But we must do more, or the DRWG Research Plan will be placed on a shelf somewhere.

We are in the process of drafting letters to Dr. Varmus, seeking clarification of his comments, and to our supporters on Capitol Hill. Last Friday, I had a lengthy discussion with Representative George Nethercutt, Co-Chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, on this subject.

We'll do our part, but we need your help. Please write, call or email your Senators and Representative today. Strongly urge them to insist that NIH implement the DRWG Research Plan.

For the names and addresses for your Senators and Representative, please visit

As a person with type 1 diabetes, I sincerely appreciate your efforts to make finding a cure for diabetes a national priority. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me at or Joseph LaMountain at

Steve Smith

For Additional Information

Posted 13 May 1999

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Last Updated: Thursday February 27, 2014 19:28:21
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