Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reflecting on President Obama’s final State of the Union address. While there are certainly points of contention with any presidential address, this year I believe he emphasized one point we can all agree on. President Obama commended Congress for passing $2 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest increase in more than a decade. As we embark on 2016, I urge my colleagues to use this investment to tackle our greatest challenges in health and health care.
At UNC-Chapel Hill, we receive more NIH funding than any other entity in the state. This helps us produce treatments and discoveries that will improve health care for tomorrow. With this additional funding, we can seek new and better ways of doing things and challenging conventional wisdom is how we make progress. Take Aziz Sancar, professor at the UNC School of Medicine and Nobel Prize laureate. Along with his colleagues, Dr. Sancar unraveled how our cells fight back against DNA damage, a tremendous step toward helping us understand hereditary disorders and cancer.
President Obama also made a vow to use these resources to help America find a cure for cancer. This is a lofty, yet very important, goal. Along with my colleagues at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the School of Medicine, I am confident that we are well on our way. Thanks to a greater emphasis on medical research, we can further those efforts.
Today, I would like to celebrate the president’s emphasis on embracing change, innovation and research. We at UNC Health Care will continue our efforts to answer the president’s – and thousands of patients’ – call.
I have no doubt that we will. As the president so aptly put it, “…spirit of discovery is in our DNA.”