Our Priority: Promote and Protect Funding for Urologic Research
Why the Issue Matters
The AUA is a leader in advancing opportunities for awareness and support for urologic research. We work with the research and policy communities to develop and maintain relationships with federal funding agencies; collaborate with patient advocacy organizations; represent the AUA in political arenas on behalf of urologic research; and provide input on legislative issues affecting urologic research. The AUA's current priorities for research advocacy focus on protecting and securing funds for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).
National Institutes of Health: In the last three years, NIH funding for urologic diseases has steadily increased from $541 million in FY 2018 to $587 million in FY 2020. This funding has improved the lives of Americans with urologic diseases, including those with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, commonly found in men over the age of 50 and causing numerous office visits, symptoms such as pain and urinary dysfunction, and significant economic burden.
In addition, NIH research has shed light on potential health care savings with better treatment options for urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a highly prevalent condition and costs more than $7.5 billion annually to evaluate and treat. Through a large collaborative research effort involving urology, gynecology, epidemiologists, physical therapy, geriatrics, and biostatistics, NIH-funded researchers discovered that certain bladder testing before surgery was unnecessary, and the application of these findings will save tens of millions of dollars by preventing unnecessary testing.
Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs: The CDMRP, established in 1992, has funded more than 16,631 research grants and projects totaling more than $12 billion in funding. Numerous urologic conditions benefit each year from CDMRP funding, although prostate cancer is the most recognizable and longstanding research topic area.
What the AUA is Doing
Through engagement in collaboration efforts across the entire urologic community and active participation in coalitions, the AUA has made significant strides in securing funds for urologic research.
The AUA actively works with One Voice Against Cancer to support continued growth not only for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) but for NIH funding as a whole. Robust advocacy efforts resulted in a $2 billion increase for NIH in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, and an additional $2.6 billion increase for NIH funding in FY 2020 totaling $41.6 billion.
In addition, the AUA continuously works to provide outreach and build relationships with NIH agencies focused on urologic research including NCI, National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS). These relationships are cultivated through face-to-face meetings that take place annually in conjunction with the AUA’s Annual Urology Advocacy Summit, responding to calls to action for strategic plan input, and coalition participation.
In 2020, the AUA was appointed to the Friends of NICHD’s Executive Committee and actively participates in advocacy efforts to increase funding for the agency. In 2014, the AUA became an Advisory Committee member of the Friends of NIDDK congressional advocacy coalition in support of funding for NIDDK extramural research and continues to actively participate in this advisory role. The AUA attends and represents urologic research interests at public meetings of the NIDDK Advisory Council, and represent urologic research interests at public meetings of the National Cancer Advisory Board.
To ensure protection of the urologic research funding provided through the CDMRP, the AUA remains an active participant of the Defense Health Research Consortium (DHRC). The DHRC comprises more than 50 advocacy organizations who present a powerful unified front in support of vital medical research programs at the Department of Defense. The DHRC’s advocacy efforts have resulted in steady research funding increases for urologic diseases. FY 2020 appropriations resulted in $110 million for prostate cancer, $40 million for kidney cancer, which is a 50% increase from the previous year and a 200% increase since FY 2017, and bladder cancer, which remained eligible for research grants from a pool of funding totaling $110 million.
In FY 2021, the urologic community is requesting a dedicated $10 million line item in the CDMRP for bladder cancer research. Since 2016, bladder cancer has resided within the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) that entails sharing one line of funding with multiple disease areas. Having a dedicated funding line for bladder cancer will ensure that this underfunded and understudied cancer receives the necessary funds and awareness to minimize research gaps in patient treatment and care.
Other Coalition Activity
Additional research focused coalitions the AUA actively supports include the following: