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Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of H.R. 6163, the National Pediatric Research Network Act of 2012.
H.R. 6163 represents a bi-partisan effort to allow the National Institutes of Health, NIH, to establish a national pediatric research network dedicated to finding treatments and cures for pediatric diseases and conditions--especially those that are rare. The network would be comprised of up to 20 research consortia or groups of collaborating research institutions such as universities and hospitals. These consortia would be investigator-initiated and would conduct basic, clinical, behavioral, and translational research on pediatric diseases and conditions. NIH funding would be used to create the infrastructure necessary to carry out this research.
Within the network, the NIH Director is instructed to ensure that an appropriate number of awards go to those consortia that focus primarily on pediatric rare diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy--or SMA--or pediatric birth defects such as Down syndrome. These kinds of diseases and conditions are rare and some of the children who suffer from them are very fragile, making it difficult for them to travel great distances to participate in clinical trials or other research. This is often the case when--not infrequently--only one institution is conducting such research. The availability of consortia--by definition, multiple cooperating institutions--should make clinical research opportunities far more accessible to these kids and their families. In turn, we would hope they would help speed up the time and effort in finding treatments and cures for these devastating diseases and conditions.
In addition to the research itself, the consortia are expected to serve as training grounds for future pediatric researchers. Traditionally, pediatric research has been underfunded. This has sometimes resulted in real challenges in recruiting the talent necessary to tackle diseases and conditions that affect kids--again, especially those that are rare. Thus, H.R. 6163 places a special emphasis on pediatric research techniques with the goal of helping to ``prime the pump'' for a greater number of leading edge pediatric researchers.
Taken together, the components of H.R. 6163 make for a package that would allow NIH to build on the strong body of pediatric research that it currently conducts and supports. I would encourage NIH to take full advantage of this opportunity.
As we move forward with this legislation--here, and hopefully, in the Senate--I want to commend all those members of the Energy and Commerce Committee who have come together to make it happen. I especially want to the note the effort of Congresswoman Capps. She is the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill and has worked tirelessly to bring it before us today.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on H.R. 6163.
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