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Ernst Leads Bipartisan Push to Streamline Children’s Health Care Research

Childhood cancer diagnoses in the U.S. have been trending up for more than a decade, according to a study published last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

WASHINGTON — Today, Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a bipartisan effort to promote pediatric-focused research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by increasing pediatric research collaboration across all 27 institutes within the agency.

“Pediatric research of complex medical conditions is critical to protecting the health and improving the lives of kids in Iowa and across the country,” said Senator Ernst. “As childhood cancer diagnoses continue to climb, we must ensure that our strongest researchers are working together to find the best cures and treatments available. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to streamline pediatric research throughout the NIH with the hope of healing America’s children.”

“Blank Children’s Hospital applauds Senator Ernst’s commitment to advancing health care for children of all ages through the introduction of the Pediatricians Accelerate Childhood Therapies Act.  This effort is an important pathway to recruit and retain the nation’s future scientists and physicians into the field of pediatric research. This legislation will make a significant difference in the lives of children by prioritizing improvements in treatment for childhood cancer, pediatric precision medicine, children’s mental health, and rare childhood diseases and disorders,” said Wendy Woods-Swafford, MD, MPH, Vice President and Medical Director of Blank Children’s Hospital & Women’s Services.

"MercyOne is grateful for Senator Ernst's leadership in advancing the Pediatricians Accelerate Childhood Therapies Act. This legislation is critical to foster much-needed growth in pediatric research. The future advancements of healthcare are founded in research. With this bill, we can help improve the health of generations to come," said Dr. Jessica Zuzga-Reed, MercyOne Interim Associate Chief Medical Officer.

“As part of an academic medical center, The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital sees the impact of pediatric research on the lives of children every day,” said Alexander G. Bassuk, MD, PhD, pediatric neurologist, Chair of Pediatrics, and Physician-in-Chief of The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. “More children are thriving and surviving than ever before, thanks to continued advancements in pediatric research. The Pediatricians Accelerate Childhood Therapies Act would help continue this momentum, attracting a new generation of pediatric researchers who are passionate about solving the mysteries of childhood diseases and improving patient outcomes.”

The Pediatricians Accelerate Childhood Therapies Act would develop a set of research priorities within the NIH to support outstanding pediatric researchers and align pediatric research topics with the current and future priorities of the agency. The bill also directs the NIH Pediatric Research Consortium to improve coordination and identify gaps and opportunities to support the development of new treatments and cures for diseases and conditions that affect children in Iowa and across the United States.

This legislation is supported by Blank Children’s, ChildServe, MercyOne Children’s, and the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.