Editor’s note: The directors of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duke Cancer Institute and Wake Forest Cancer Center have jointly written an open letter to Congress calling for what they call a “robust” National Institutes of Health budget.

The letter follows:

“When members of Congress return to Washington at the end of this month, we are hopeful they will recognize there is a mutual and national benefit to working together to pass an omnibus package for Fiscal Year 2017 that includes robust investments in the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute.

“We are quite fortunate in North Carolina to have three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers, a distinction achieved by conducting basic, clinical and population-scale cancer research. As the directors of those centers, we know firsthand that strong and sustained investments in the NIH and NCI drive the meaningful progress in cancer research and discovery that enables our caregivers to provide better and more effective cancer care.

“Our three cancer centers have a history of making groundbreaking discoveries that improve our ability to prevent, diagnose, and more effectively treat cancer. Cancer remains a scourge on our population. It is estimated that in North Carolina alone, more than 20,000 people will die from cancer in 2017, and nearly 57,000 will be diagnosed with the disease. One of every two men and one of every three women are destined to be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. These figures are quite sobering, and they underscore the fact that we have much work ahead of us.

“As we look to what the future holds for cancer research and care, it is without question that sustained funding of the NIH and its research mission will positively impact our society’s personal and economic health, both for our state and our country.

“Now is the time for Congress to take a stand and put forward – and pass – a Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations package that includes stable, predictable funds for the NIH. Our patients are counting on it.”


Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, executive director, Duke Cancer Institute

Norman E. Sharpless, MD, director, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

Boris Pasche, MD, PhD, director, Wake Forest Cancer Center