U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah hasn’t wasted much time exerting his influence and the political cachet that comes with his recent appointment as the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies.
Fortunately, for citizens here the majority of Fattah’s influence has benefited Philadelphia and its neighboring counties. Fattah’s recent announcement that four University City-area institutions will receive a combined 11 grants totaling nearly $3.2 million shows both Fattah’s rising clout and his dedication and support of the sciences.
The University of Pennsylvania is the biggest grantee of the massive, $3,126,856 National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-funded grant, as it will receive $117,282 for mental health research in the areas of schizophrenia and related disorders. UPenn will also receive a grant of $880,873 for allergy, immunology and transplantation and an additional $639,240 for two other projects. UPenn will also receive a $25,000 grant for a workshop on stress as it relates to drug abuse and addiction.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is set to receive $658,345; Integral Molecular will get $214,214; and Drexel University will get $591,903 for a diabetes, endocrinology and metabolic research project.
“These nationally respected medical, academic and research institutions in the University City area continue to be national leaders in cutting edge research, especially in neuroscience,” Fattah said in a statement released by his office. “The latest influx of federal research dollars in a variety of health and neuroscience disciplines underscores that point.”
Fattah also facilitated CHOP’s receiving last month of two other neuroscience research-related grants, totaling $214,272. “These grants will enable the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to continue its cutting edge research and treatment in the areas of concussion, cognitive impairment in youth and other critically important fields of brain injury research,” Fattah said when announcing this round of grants. “CHOP is at the top of the list of our nation’s leading hospitals for children and a key player in Philadelphia’s vibrant research community.”
Fattah has long wielded his political influence in the realm of neuroscience research, having met last month with a top aide to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick in an effort to gain knowledge on the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium, elements of which Fattah wants to adopt in his own progressive model for a national public/private/non-profit partnership on brain research.
Fattah is the author of the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative, which calls on the White House “to establish, through the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), an interagency working group to coordinate Federal investments in neuroscience research,” according to Fattah’s House website. The initiative has garnered support on both sides of the aisle.
It is telling that Fattah — an elected official working in a city long heralded for its strong science and pharmaceutical industry — visited another science research stronghold to gather as much information and support for his initiative as possible.
“This new Consortium based in Boston and Cambridge is an exciting development for future advances in brain science and medicine,” said Fattah, who also recently visited pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. “The Consortium can provide us with the model for a major national partnership of government, the pharmaceutical industry, leading academic researchers and medical schools.
“This coordinated approach,” Fattah continued, “of putting together our best and brightest can be good news for the tens of millions of Americans affected by every kind of brain disorder from Alzheimer’s to sports concussions, battlefield injuries and childhood learning disabilities.”