U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers and Texas Rep. Michael Burgess brought together government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and university and public health representatives for a discussion Thursday on developing and delivering vaccines.
Ellmers and Burgess are members of the House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee. They said they wanted to hear ideas they could turn into proposed legislation.
The 21st Century Cures roundtable was timely, as GlaxoSmithKline is testing an Ebola vaccine.
The government representatives said for years they have worked closely with each other and with drug companies to develop and test urgently needed vaccines.
Dr. Barton Haynes, director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, said North Carolina is a "rich source of resources and remarkable collaborations."
One of the challenges for academic researchers is the lack of funds for basic and developmental work, he said. The budget for the National Institutes of Heath has been flat for a dozen years, Haynes said, and the NIH has lost purchasing power because of inflation. The NIH budget took another hit with sequestration, the automatic budget cut, resulting in less money for biomedical research.