A bill eight years in the making to strengthen pediatric biomedical research is headed to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law. The legislation, known as the National Pediatric Research Network Act and strongly supported by The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, passed the U.S. Senate November 14 by unanimous voice vote, two days after passing the House of Representatives in similar fashion as part of a three-bill package.
The National Pediatric Research Network Act is bipartisan legislation that aims to accelerate research breakthroughs to develop new treatments and therapies for pediatric diseases and conditions. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the legislation and Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) was a co-sponsor. The bill also received critical support from U.S. House of Representatives leadership and members.
“This bipartisan legislation will use a proven national network model to strengthen the effectiveness of pediatric medical research that is vital to improving the health of our nation’s children, especially those with rare and incurable diseases,” said John Barnard, MD, president of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “We thank Senator Brown for his continued dedication to pediatric biomedical research and to finding new treatments for diseases in children. We appreciate the support of all our members of Congress.”
The legislation authorizes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish pediatric research consortia throughout the nation. Each consortium will be investigator-initiated, consist of multiple institutions in a "hub and spoke" arrangement, and be competitively selected through a rigorous peer review process. The bill includes a focus on pediatric rare diseases and conditions or those related to birth defects, including through multi-site clinical trials.
The bill does not increase federal spending; rather, it enables NIH to establish the network to maximize the impact of funding committed to pediatric research.
The Coalition for Pediatric Medical Research, a coalition made up of more than 20 of the nation’s leading children’s hospital’s and pediatric research institutions, helped lead the push to enact the legislation into law.