News | September 23, 2007

NAS Study Shows Need to Restore Federal Nuclear Medicine Research Funding

September 24, 2007 – The Society for Molecular Imaging and Nuclear Medicine (SNM) recently reported that based on the results of a recent National Academy of Sciences report, federal funding for basic molecular imaging/nuclear medicine research should be restored to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Funded by the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, the 13-month, $700,000 report was prompted by a $23 million cut in funding from the DOE Office of Sciences' fiscal year 2006 budget, which effectively eliminated most money for basic nuclear medicine and molecular imaging research. The DOE has funded basic molecular imaging/nuclear medicine research since biomedical research was initially included in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. This research has lead to the introduction of many life-saving technologies over the years. "Advancing Nuclear Medicine Through Innovation" recommends that the federal government "enhance" its commitment to nuclear medicine research since "expanded use of nuclear medicine techniques has the potential to accelerate, simplify and reduce the costs of developing and delivering improved health care and could facilitate the implementation of personalized medicine."

"The loss of funding for nuclear medicine research in the U.S. Department of Energy budget has been a tremendous blow to—most importantly—our current and future patients and our field," said SNM President Alexander J. McEwan, who represents 16,000 physicians, technologists and scientists. "This report confirms that funding for this nation's basic research program must be restored or future life-saving diagnostic and treatment procedures could be lost to all Americans," he added.

"If funding is not restored in the 2008 fiscal year, it will be detrimental to researchers and their labs. This is the only federal government research money dedicated to basic nuclear medicine research and there are no plans to move this research to another federal agency," explained Peter S. Conti, chair of SNM's Government Relations Committee. "Our country needs to invest in the basic scientific research necessary to develop future breakthroughs in nuclear medicine imaging and therapy that will allow for earlier detection and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses," he noted.

Briefly, the NAS report calls for enhanced federal commitment to nuclear medicine research; recommends that regulatory requirements—for toxicology and current good manufacturing practices facilities—be clarified and simplified; notes that domestic medical radionuclide production should be improved and suggests that DOE and NIH convene expert panels to identify critical national needs for training nuclear medicine scientists and encourages interdisciplinary collaboration.

For more information: www.snm.org

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