Senator Specter to Talk About Health Care, NIH Funding at UCSF Town Hall

Arlen Specter

The UCSF community is invited to attend a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16 with long-time US Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), who will address the future of health care reform and federal funding to support scientific research.

Specter has long been a champion of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the primary federal agency responsible for conducting and supporting scientific research. UCSF is the second largest recipient of NIH funds, according to figures released by the agency last year.

Specter is responsible for the $10.4 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocation to NIH for fiscal year 2009-2010. “It is unusual that one individual can readily be singled out for credit, but in this case, it is easy. Senator Specter was getting political advice, and even concerns from scientists, that $10 billion for NIH was out of reach,” said UCSF School of Medicine Executive Vice Dean Keith Yamamoto, who is actively involved in science policy activities in Washington DC.  “Senator Specter accomplished this virtually single-handedly.”

Specter will join UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, for the town hall meeting from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Byers Auditorium in Genentech Hall at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. The town hall will be video simulcast to Rock Hall, room 102, at Mission Bay and the School of Nursing, room 225, on the Parnassus campus.

Senator Specter is expected to give a 10-minute overview of critical issues facing the nation, including reforming health care, the role of academic medical centers in the health care system and the importance of federal funding to support basic and translational research.

For the remainder of the meeting, members of the audience will be able to participate in a 45-minute question-and-answer session with Senator Specter. Specter, who often visits and speaks at universities and high schools, wishes to hear questions, concerns and viewpoints from the UCSF community. “We all owe Senator Specter a great debt of gratitude for his powerful support of NIH research, as well as for his leadership in increasing federal support for education,” said Yamamoto. “It is exciting that he wants to hear from us.”

To RSVP for the town hall meeting, please email Jennifer Banaszek

About Senator Specter

Elected to the United States Senate in 1980, Senator Specter is a senior member of the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations and Veterans Affairs committees. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, he has played a key role on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. This subcommittee oversees federal funding for the NIH, the US Centers for Disease Control and educational programs like Pell grants.

Senator Specter has been instrumental in doubling the budget for NIH, which has made major advances in treating Parkinson’s, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. He is a strong proponent of stem cell research as a means to discover knowledge that may lead to cures for these diseases.

Under his leadership, funding for education has increased by more than 130 percent, which includes boosting funding for scholarships and student loans. He credits his parents, both immigrants, with emphasizing the importance of education.

Specter has supported expanding health care for seniors and children and has proposed legislation to cover the almost 50 million Americans who do not have health insurance. He supports the ongoing efforts to reform health care.

A strong advocate for veterans, Specter has pushed for just treatment for veterans and increased benefits. He is the son of Harry Specter, who was wounded in World War I.

Senator Specter fought off Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer in 2005 and 2008 after receiving nearly five months of chemotherapy in both cases. In July 2008, he received his last chemotherapy treatment and has since received a clean bill of health.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Specter grew up in the small town of Russell, Kansas. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Related Link:

US Senator Arlen Specter’s website