– U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Roger Wicker
(R-MS) sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging Acting National Institute of
Health (NIH) Director Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak to expand funding opportunities for
research in osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic physicians have expertise in the
musculoskeletal system and receive additional training in osteopathic
manipulative treatment (OMT), a hands-on technique and non-pharmacological
solution to pain management. This type of treatment can serve as a
non-addictive alternative to opioids. Increasing this focus at the NIH would
help to address health disparities in rural and medically underserved
populations and advance research in primary care, prevention, and treatment.
This also helps address the nation’s doctor shortage – 58% of osteopathic
medical schools are located in states with Health Professional Shortage Areas,
including New Mexico, Mississippi, and Nevada.
are concerned by the historic disparity in NIH funding and representation for
[Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (COMs)],” wrote the senators.
is the fastest growing medical field in the country and 38 osteopathic medical
schools nationwide currently educate nearly 34,000 physicians – 25% of all U.S.
medical students. Unfortunately, osteopathic medical schools receive only 0.1%
of NIH grants compared to 40% for allopathic schools.
the letter, the lawmakers outlined critical steps for NIH to expand research
funding for COMs. This includes guidance to:
a structured partnership with the osteopathic medical education community,
including the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
(AACOM), which creates and executes a plan to increase NIH funding for
a program to incentivize principal investigators from COMs.
opportunities to fund research projects that incorporate the osteopathic
philosophy and OMT.
representation for the osteopathic profession on NIH National Advisory
Councils and study selection reviewers.
encourage you and NIH leadership to meet with relevant stakeholders to discuss
the issues outlined in this letter. We thank you for your attention to this
important matter and look forward to learning more about your efforts to
advance funding and representation opportunities for osteopathic medicine,” concluded
letter from the lawmakers is supported by the American Association of Colleges
of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM).
decades, NIH has neglected the world class research being done at colleges of
osteopathic medicine,” said Dr. Robert A. Cain, AACOM President and CEO.
“Increasing funding for osteopathic medical research will help our nation in
its efforts to address health disparities in rural and underserved populations,
enable us to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic and advance the quality of
treatment in primary care and beyond.”
Senators Cramer, Wicker and Heinrich are Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Sherrod
Brown (D-OH), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK),
James Lankford (R-OK), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).
to read the letter.