Wexton’s Bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 Passes House Energy and Commerce Committee
Washington, May 18, 2022
Washington, DC – Today, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton’s (D-VA) bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 by a vote of 53-0. The legislation would nearly double funding for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First) to research new treatments and cures for childhood cancer and other rare pediatric diseases.
The bill is named in honor of Gabriella Miller, a Virginia-10 resident who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and passed away in 2013 at age 10. Congresswoman Wexton has worked closely with Ellyn Miller, Gabriella’s mother, to introduce and advance the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0. Ellyn and her husband, Mark, founded Smashing Walnuts in 2013 to advocate and raise awareness about childhood cancer.
“I’m thrilled to share that my bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 has passed through committee, taking us one major step closer to delivering transformative new funding for pediatric cancer and rare disease research that will save children’s lives,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “Advancing this legislation has been a top priority since I first came to Congress, and I’ve worked closely with my constituent, Ellyn Miller, to emphasize to my colleagues in Congress the pressing need for greater investments to discover treatments and cures for these diseases. I’m proud to see our hard work paying off and am eager to continue our efforts to get this bipartisan bill to the President’s desk.”
“When our daughter, Gabriella, died in 2013 we began an effort to start to bring an appropriate level of resources to this terribly underfunded fight against childhood cancer and disease. Our family and the foundation that Gabriella started, Smashing Walnuts, applaud the leadership of Congresswoman Wexton and the House Energy and Commerce Committee for their approval (53-0) of the Gabriella Miller Kids First 2.0 legislation. It is auspicious that this legislation rapidly moved through Committee during Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Today we thank the Members of Congress for their bold step to double the current funding and reauthorize the Kids First for an additional 5 years. The great work of the NIH will continue and expand under this legislation! We urge swift action by the House and Senate to get this legislation to the President's desk this Fall!!,” said Ellyn and Mark Miller, Gabriella’s parents.
The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act was signed into law in 2014, establishing the Ten-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund and authorizing $12.6 million in annual funds for childhood disease research through Fiscal Year 2023. Since the original law was enacted, Kids First has made progress towards understanding childhood cancer and disease, such as initiating the Gabriella Miller Kids First Data Resource Center—a comprehensive data resource for research and patient communities meant to advance discoveries. Wexton’s legislation increases annual allocation of funds to $25 million, nearly doubling the funding.
In 2022, it is estimated that 10,470 children in the U.S. under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is the number one cause of disease-related death in children age 14 and younger in the U.S. Childhood cancers differ from those found in adults in that they do not stem from lifestyle or other common risk factors. Many children with cancer do not respond well to conventional treatments, which have resulted in long-term health and disability issues for patients, even if the cancer is successfully cured. Yet, only 4% of the government’s funding for cancer research is specifically directed towards the development of treatments and cures for childhood cancer and other rare diseases.
The text of the bill can be found here.