WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Kit Bond (R-MO) today announced bipartisan legislation to accelerate research on childhood illnesses. The Pediatric Research Consortia Establishment Act would create a nationally-coordinated research network to pursue new treatments and cures for childhood diseases.

“This is about finding treatments for childhood diseases and preventing them from evolving into deadly illnesses in adulthood,” said Brown. “This bill addresses gaps in pediatric research so that we can find new treatments for our nation’s youngest patients.”

“Investing in pediatric research is critical to finding cures for children sick today and to preventing children from suffering from devastating diseases in the future,” said Bond.  “I hope members on both sides of the aisle support this bipartisan bill to improve children’s health care which will mean healthier and happier lives for critically ill children.”
While children constitute 20 percent of the U.S. population, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) currently dedicates only 5 percent of its annual research budget to pediatric research. This underinvestment is occurring despite the fact that a growing body of evidence indicates that many of America’s deadly adult health conditions have their roots in childhood. The Brown-Bond legislation would increase investment in pediatric research to assist in the discovery of new treatments and therapies for some of the most devastating childhood diseases and conditions.

The Pediatric Research Consortia Establishment Act would authorize NIH to establish up to 20 national pediatric research “hubs,” which would collaborate with a consortium of other “spoke” institutions that are similarly focused on pediatric research and training. Modeled after the successful National Cancer Institute (NCI) Centers, these consortia would conduct basic and translational research. Brown and Bond emphasized that this bill has the potential to enhance and better coordinate pediatric research in this country, a transformation that will help children overcome disabling and deadly diseases and conditions.

"For too long, our nation's children have not received their fair share of research dollars. This shortchanges not only our kids, but all Americans as pediatric research is key to understanding - and treating - pediatric and adult conditions which begin in early life,” said Dr. David Williams, leader of the Coalition for Pediatric Medical Research. “Over the past 5 years, research leaders from many children's hospitals have worked together to develop a strategy to reverse this trend. Our nation's children's hospitals and leading pediatric academic societies strongly endorse the National Pediatric Research Consortia, and thank Senators Brown and Bond for their leadership.”

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital strongly supports this legislation proposed by Senator Brown. It will strengthen our capacity to collaborate with peer institutions on critical pediatric health care issues with the clear result being accelerated discovery of prevention strategies, treatments and cures of childhood diseases,” said John Barnard, MD, President of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

“Cincinnati Children's Hospital is very excited about the potential the National Pediatric Research Consortia Act will bring to the pediatric research community as we strive to find cures for childhood illness,” said Arnold Strauss, MD, and Chairman of Pediatrics and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “Because of the leadership from Senators Brown and Bond, we are confident this legislation will bring focus and prioritize pediatric research in a way we have not seen. The consortiums created by this bill are our best opportunity to make a real difference.”

"This legislation is a much-needed investment in both the present and the future of healthcare," said Lee Fetter, president of St. Louis Children's Hospital.  "Pediatric research provides more than just hope for sick children today.  This research bill creates a network to treat and prevent diseases that will also affect tomorrow's adults.  Senator Bond has long been a champion for children, and this measure is yet another example of his true dedication to the health of children in Missouri and everywhere."