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AGA advocates for increased NIH funding

AGA position: Congress should increase NIH funding to $49 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2023.

Each year, more than 62 million Americans are diagnosed with digestive disorders, including foodborne illness, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, gastrointestinal cancers and motility disorders. In some of these areas, medical research has brought us closer to developing lifesaving treatments and cures. Yet, in others, we still lack even the basic understanding of the cause and transmission of the diseases. 


According to surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2013, 40.4 million ambulatory care visits occur annually with a first-listed diagnosis of digestive disease.1 Many of these diseases are potentially deadly or debilitating, and include colon, liver and pancreatic cancers, IBD, foodborne illness, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. The costs for treating these diseases exceed $141 billion annually.1,2

In fact, burden statistics indicate that the five-year survival rate for individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is 9 percent; for liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer, it is 18 percent; and for esophageal cancer, the survival rate is 21 percent.3 Funding research to identify effective treatments and cures for these digestive diseases can save the health care system in the U.S. billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives.


Research funding has proven to be a wise investment given that life expectancy has increased; death from heart disease, cancer and stroke is declining; and new technologies are able to detect and treat disease more quickly. A recent study by United for Medical Research4 found that every NIH dollar generates more than twice as much in state economic output. NIH grants and contracts created and supported more than 552,000 jobs that generated over $94 billion in economic activity across all 50 states in 2021 alone.

Search NIH funding awards by state and the number of jobs supported by this funding.


Investing in biomedical research must be continuous and funding NIH’s base budget at $49 billion will enable the institute to build on the momentum of recent increases and expand NIH’s capacity to support promising research in all disciplines. Increasing NIH funding will continue to spur economic growth and development, create jobs and maintain our country’s global competitiveness in the life sciences industry. 

Importantly, while AGA supports the efforts of President Biden’s newly launched program, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), we are concerned with his budget request to allocate $5 billion from the NIH to fund it. Therefore, AGA asks Congress that when considering funding for ARPA-H, they supplement the NIH’s base budget of $49 billion rather than supplant it.  

In conclusion, AGA calls on Congress to support the research community’s recommendation to increase the NIH base budget by $4.3 billion in FY 2023. 

1. NCHS, National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2013.
2. NCHS, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2013.
3. Everhart JE, editor. The Burden of Digestive Diseases in the United States. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2008; NIH Publication No. 09-6443.
4. American Cancer Society. (2017). Cancer facts & figures 2017. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society.
5. Ehrlich E. NIH’S Role in Sustaining the U.S. Economy. United for Medical Research. 2016. Accessed at Economy-FY15-FINAL-5.23.16.pdf.
6. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. NIH Research Funding Trends. 2017. Accessed at Funding.pdf.
7. Office of Management and Budget. (2017). Major savings and reforms: Budget of the U.S. government, Fiscal year 2018. fy2018/msar.pdf.