Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and senior dean for research at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, recently briefed the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on the roles the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration play in getting innovations to patients.

The HELP Committee had invited the Association of American Medical Colleges to brief a bipartisan staff working group examining the roles of the two agencies in enhancing the process for getting safe treatments, devices, and cures to patients.

On behalf of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Friedlander offered academic medicine’s perspective on innovation and medical research. Joined by Curt Civin, associate dean for research at University of Maryland School of Medicine, Friedlander emphasized the need for a sustained federal investment in medical research and discussed various research challenges facing academic medicine, including support for young investigators, data sharing, an increasing administrative burden, and relationships with industry. The two presenters then fielded questions from 30 Senate staff participants.

The discussion was part of a bipartisan initiative announced in early February to operate on a parallel track with the House’s 21st Century Cures initiative. The HELP Committee has engaged other stakeholders in the series, including representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the pharmaceutical industry, and patient organizations.