After Losing Son, Mother Urges Congress to Save NIH Funding


The mother of Chad Carr, the grandson of former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr who died at age 5 in 2015 of a rare form of pediatric cancer, spoke in front of a House committee Wednesday urging lawmakers to stop President Trump’s proposed budgets cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“When I hear about those potential cuts to the NIH, it just hits me right in the gut. There have been such great strides made around pediatric cancers, such as leukemia, because bright minds were asked to focus on treatments and they were given the resources necessary to do so,” Tammi Carr, the founder of Chad Tough Foundation, told the House of Representatives Oversight Committee.

Carr’s son Chad made national news in 2014 during his brave 14-month battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).

“Pediatric leukemia was once considered a rare disease 40 years ago with a 10 percent survival rate, now there is a survival rate of nearly 90 percent. Chemotherapy was developed as a result of pediatric cancer and leukemia research,” Carr said. “If NIH funding is reduced it will stifle progress to some of the most vulnerable people in our country who face devastating diseases like DIPG.”

Released earlier this month, President Trump’s blueprint budget for fiscal 2018 looks to cut $5.8 billion from NIH, the nation’s premier medical research funding agency, as it proposes to boost spending on the military and help pay for the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. But Tuesday the White House suggested an immediate $1.2 billion cut to the agency, according to Politico, which would mean programs that had been previously approved and funded for this year would be shut down.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, urged Congress during the hearing to reject any cuts to NIH.

“I share their hope, I believe in the promise that biomedical research holds but we are at a cross roads. Congress must reject the devastating cuts at NIH proposed by President Trump,” Cummings said.

But Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price supported the proposed budget cuts, saying the NIH is currently plagued by unnecessary expenses.

“Our goal is to fashion a budget that focuses on the things that work, that tries to decrease the areas where there are either duplications or redundancies or waste, and whether indeed we can get a larger return for the American taxpayer,” Price said.

The White House Office of Management and Budget said earlier this month that NIH’s new budget for 2018, “eliminates programs that are duplicative or have limited impact on public health” and the new budget will "continue to support priority activities that reflect a new and sustainable approach to long-term fiscal stability across the Federal Government." A spokesperson from NIH declined to comment on the proposed budget cuts, which are expected to heavily affect research grants.

Among the other speakers at Wednesday’s hearing were co-chairs of former Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, Dr. Mary Beckerle, Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee and Dr. Tyler Jacks.

Former Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s wife Ann, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has also spoke out against Trump’s proposed NIH budget cuts, telling Yahoo News that she will be the first one line up to lobby against it.

“Nothing comes from nothing. If you don’t have that funding, there will be nothing,” Romney said. "There will be no new treatments, there will be no new drug therapies. Progress in medicine will come to a halt."