In 2020, you cosponsored the Gabriella Milller Kids First Research Act HR 6556, but we were unable to complete it in the 116th Congressional session. This year, Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK-04), Peter Welch (D-VT-At Large), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) joined Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) in re-introducing this legislation as H.R. 623 on January 28, 2021. In addition, over 35 other Representatives have already cosponsored. Again this year, we have over 250 foundations and organizations including the Alliance for Childhood Cancer and more than 1,200 advocates covering all 50 states, who have signed a letter of support for this renewed legislation.
Like last year’s HR 6556 that you cosponsored, this replacement bill, H.R. 623 Kids First 2.0, will also enhance and expand the original The Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Act which was passed by Congress in 2014, and signed by President Obama the very same year. You will recall that the original act was intended to be a 10-year program. With $88 million of non-taxpayer funding provided by the act over the past seven years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund established the highly successful Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First). Another $38 million is expected to be appropriated over the remaining three years of the original Act.
As a reminder, The Kids First Program established with the 2014 bill fosters collaborative research to uncover the genetic etiology of childhood cancer and structural birth defects. In pursuit of this goal, NIH developed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Data Resource Center (Kids First Data Resource Center), and is in the process of expanding a public-facing, web-based portal that allows researchers to search, access, aggregate, analyze, and share annotated genomic sequence, variant, and phenotypic datasets. This resource is of high value for the pediatric research community and will facilitate analyses across diverse conditions to uncover shared developmental pathways. Under this program, more than two-dozen pediatric research focused laboratories have generated vital genomic data that will be shared with the entire research community. The overall goal is to help researchers understand the underlying mechanisms of these conditions leading to more refined diagnostic capabilities and ultimately more targeted therapies or interventions. This First Act is just the beginning, we must continue and enhance this vital work, because while cancer is the single leading cause of death by disease among American children, currently only 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.9 billion budget goes towards development of cures and treatments for childhood cancer. Because of limited research in the past 30 years, only 4 drugs have been developed exclusiverly to treat childhood cancer.
With the replacement H.R. 623 – The Gabriella Kids First Research Act 2.0, again with non-taxpayer funding, we will be able to expand this program to develop a truly comprehensive shared-data resource for scientists researching the majority of pediatric cancers and structural birth defects, and support development of computational tools to analyze these very large, complex genomic, and clinical data sets.
The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 (H.R. 623) will redirect penalties levied against pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food supplement, and medical device manufacturers by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA). The funds from the penalties would be transferred to the Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There have been consistent and large civil sanctions leveraged since 2013 – hundreds of millions of dollars from six violations against pharmaceutical companies alone. With this legislation, penalties from companies that break the law would be channeled directly to critical medical research.
Again this year, your support is essential to continue to build upon the successful work that has already been done and to expand and enhance our capabilities in the future. Please consider cosponsoring H.R. 623 – Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 as you did last year’s legislation.
Ellyn Miller, always Gabriella’s mom