Senator Collins Questions Experts on the Progress Made Since Implementation of 21st Century Cures Act

Senator Collins has championed bipartisan efforts to increase funding for opioid abuse prevention and treatment as well as medical research

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ Q&A with hearing witnesses

Note to assignment editors and news directors: Click HERE for high-quality video of Senator Collins’ Q&A with hearing witnesses

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Senate Health Committee held the second hearing in a series to discuss implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act since it became law on December 13, 2016. The committee questioned experts from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on how they have implemented the 21st Century Cures Act to advance biomedical research, decrease development time, and improve the regulatory process to advance safe and effective medical treatments. U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Health Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, has championed bipartisan efforts in Congress to increase funding for opioid abuse prevention and treatment as well as medical research.

Senator Collins highlighted the promise of the NIH Regenerative Medicine Innovation Project, funded by the 21st Century Cures Act, and how this research is making a difference for Mainers, such as Presque Isle native, Doug Oliver, who shared his story about losing and regaining his sight through regenerative therapy. Senator Collins noted that one of the eight awards that has been made as part of this Cures project went to the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, towards the development of regenerative therapies for chronic kidney disease. She also recognized the cutting-edge work of MDI Biological Laboratory.


“MDI Biological Laboratory in Maine is leading the development of regenerative therapies that hold significant potential for slowing degenerative changes that occur with aging,” remarked Senator Collins.


Senator Collins asked Dr. Collins about which aspects of the Accelerated Medicine Projects he found most promising.


“For Alzheimer’s, there are two areas that we are really pushing: one is biomarkers… and the other part is this systems biology where we’re really trying to step away from what we know already and ask the question, ‘What else is going on in the Alzheimer’s brain, and how could we use that to develop this next generation of therapeutics?’… and then apply those early before people succumb to the illness,” Dr. Collins answered.


The 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law in December of 2016, provides $4.8 billion over ten years for the National Institutes of Health. That funding includes $1.5 billion for the BRAIN Initiative to improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s, our nation’s costliest disease. Additionally, it strengthens and improves important mental health programs for the first time in more than a decade. The 21st Century Cures Act also includes $1 billion over two years for grants to states to supplement opioid abuse prevention and treatment activities, including prescription drug monitoring programs, prevention activities, training for health care providers, and improving access to opioid treatment programs.


Witnesses testifying at today’s hearing included:


  • Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
  • Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration


Click HERE to read their testimonies.