On Behalf of the Society for Neuroscience Before the House Committee
Mr. Chairman, my name is Dr. Lorne M. Mendell. I am the
president of the Society for Neuroscience and a professor at
the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the State
University of New York at Stony Brook. I am testifying on
behalf of the Society for Neuroscience, the largest scientific
organization in the world dedicated to the study of the brain
and spinal cord.
The field of neuroscience, only a quarter of a century old, has
already made major contributions to the welfare of our
nation's citizens. Without adequate funding, our fight against
neurological diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's,
retardation, stroke, severe depression, schizophrenia, and
spinal cord injury, to name just a few, would suffer a serious
We have at our fingertips the necessary tools and resources
to make significant progress in our fight to cure neurological
diseases and disorders; all we need are the necessary funds
to build upon what we already know. Twenty years ago, the
field of neuroscience was little known to the general public.
Now, every one of us knows someone who suffers from
some type of neurological problem.
In addition to personal
experience through our family and friends, we see everyday
when we open up a magazine, or turn on the television, that
too many people are suffering from neurological disorders.
We at the Society have become more involved with our
patient advocacy groups, as they are the people who are truly
affected by our research.
After heating from them, we learn
of their day-to-day struggles. As researchers, patient
advocacy groups and members of Congress work together,
the nation will become more familiar with the progress that is
occurring in our labs and will recognize that funding is still
needed to expand upon what we already know. If we can
double the budget of NIH, we can change some of these sad,
but all too-familiar stories, into medical success stories.
Brain diseases affect more than 50 million Americans annually
at costs exceeding $400billion in direct costs for clinical care
and in lost productivity. The more than 1,000 disorders of the
brain and nervous system result in more hospitalizations than
any other disease group. The prevalence of brain disorders in
the United States, together with high annual costs for
treatment, combine to make these conditions the number-one
public health problem now confronting this nation.
But there is good news that needs to be told, and as I've said,
we are making progress. The cost-effectiveness of investing
in biomedical research has been proven as there are many
examples of cost savings from research conducted at NIH. A
few examples of the estimated annual economic costs of
several diseases include stroke ($40 billion), Alzheimer's
disease ($90 billion) and all mental disorders ($148 billion).
But if we invest our money in biomedical research now, we
can save money in the long run. One such example involves
patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. A drug, clozapine,
has enabled schizophrenic patients to leave hospitals earlier
than in the past and in some cases even return to work. These
cost savings total $23,000 per patient annually, which
translate into an approximate overall savings of $1.4 billion
annually. Another example includes lithium therapy for manic
depressive illness which has saved the U.S. economy more
than $145 billion since 1970, almost $6 billion per year.
A final, more general example, involves drug abuse. For
every dollar spent on drug use prevention, communities can
save $4 to $5 dollars in costs for drug abuse treatment and
counseling. These are just a few examples, and it is important
to note that NIH is working on an economic analysis that will
be available in the near future that highlights even more areas
of cost savings.
In conclusion, the Society for Neuroscience is grateful for this
opportunity to present testimony to this distinguished
Subcommittee. We encourage members of the public and the
Subcommittee to visit Brain Briefings, our monthly newsletter,
on our Web site (http://www.sfn.org/briefings/
to learn how
basic neuroscience discoveries lead to clinical applications.
This testimony is also available on the Web site