National Institutes of Health

Universal Vaccine Research Moves Ahead After Deadly Flu Season
Yearly vaccines still only 10 to 60 percent effective, NIH official says

Simone Groper receives a flu shot at a Walgreens pharmacy in San Francisco in January. After a particularly deadly flu season, trials for a universal vaccine are advancing. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Scientists from across the country and the globe are making progress toward developing a universal flu vaccine, but reaching that goal will likely still take years, a top administration health official said Wednesday.

The National Institutes of Health recently funded a phase two clinical trial of what is one of several likely candidates for a universal influenza vaccine, said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the NIH. The first version of a vaccine that might protect against any type of flu likely won’t actually be universal but more targeted to specific strains, though, Fauci said.

$177.1 Billion Labor-HHS-Education Moves Forward With Family Separation Changes
House Appropriations has approved 11 of 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., wants the Labor-HHS-Education bill linked to the Defense bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Appropriations Committee late Wednesday evening approved, 30-22, a $177.1 billion fiscal 2019 bill to fund the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.

The committee has now approved 11 of its 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures, following the marathon 13-hour markup of the massive nondefense bill that left lawmakers from both parties exasperated at various points. The debate covered family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, gun research funding, abstinence-only sex education and thorny political issues around religious adoption agencies.

House Appropriators Back Indefinite Detention of Migrant Kids
DeLauro: ‘It creates a false choice: Either we take the kids away or we jail everyone together’

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, joined all the Appropriation Committee’s Republicans in backing language overturning the Flores agreement in a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the southern border dominated the first few hours of Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee markup of a spending bill for the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments.

As of midafternoon, committee members had gotten through only eight of up to 50 expected amendments to the fiscal 2019 $177.1 billion spending measure.

House Prepares for Week of Action on Opioid Bills
‘Collectively these bills do not go far enough’

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., participates in the House Democrats’ news conference on health care reform in the Capitol on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will begin a voting marathon Tuesday on 34 bills designed to address the opioid epidemic. While most are not likely to be contentious, two have previously stirred controversy.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reserved about a week and a half of floor time to discuss opioid legislation. Additional bills are likely to be considered next week, such as four bill packages the House Ways and Means Committee approved with bipartisan support.

The King of Town Halls Reflects on Face Time
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner talks about the mood of constituents, the most interesting questions and his smallest crowd

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner talks with some of his constituents in Watertown in February. (Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner via Instagram)

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is the king of town halls.

The Wisconsin Republican, who was first elected to the House in 1978, held the most of any member of Congress last year, when he racked up 115. Since 2011, he has held more than 500 meetings with constituents.

For Some in Congress, the Opioid Crisis Is Personal
Lawmakers share the stories behind their efforts to combat the epidemic

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson lost his grandson to an opioid overdose. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As drug overdoses climb — rising 12 percent between October 2016 and October 2017 — Congress has floated dozens of proposals to combat opioid abuse.

Some lawmakers have deeply personal connections to the epidemic of addiction in America. These are their stories.

Congress’ Focus on Opioids Misses Larger Crisis
‘All the bills are tinkering around the edges,’ one health official says

Targeting prescription opioids puts Congress years behind the crisis, which is largely driven by illicit nonprescription drugs. Above, heroin users at a New York City park in May. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By SANDHYA RAMAN, ANDREW SIDDONS and MARY ELLEN McINTIRE

Congress faced a startling public health and political problem throughout 2016 as the number of people dying from opioid addiction climbed. The number of Americans succumbing to drug overdoses more than tripled between 1999 and 2015, affecting a whiter and more geographically diverse population than previous drug crises. Lawmakers ultimately approved some modest policies aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse and provided $1 billion to support state efforts.

Childhood Cancer Measure Nears Bipartisan Win
Advocates had concerns over congressional, White House prioritizing Right to Try

Childhood cancer groups are pleased with the progress of the measure President Donald Trump is on the verge of signing. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Groups who push for progress against childhood cancer see President Donald Trump’s imminent signing of a bill to enhance research in the field as a significant win after they grew frustrated with Congress and the administration’s pursuit of higher-profile legislation to expand access to experimental treatments.

The cancer legislation would let the Health and Human Services Department set up demonstration projects for childhood cancer survivors. Even after successful treatment, these patients can experience effects from their cancer, such as cardiovascular issues, intellectual handicaps and emotional trauma.

Women on the Verge of a Breakthrough on House Appropriations
One-two punch on the panel would be the first since women led the House Beauty Shop Committee

Texas Rep. Kay Granger is one of five Republicans — and the only Republican woman — competing for the top spot on the Appropriations Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House of Representatives hasn’t had two women lead a committee since the Select Committee on the House Beauty Shop was eliminated in 1977.

All of that could change in January.

Opinion: From the Vatican, a Challenge to Bring Promise to Patients
Conference urges support for innovations in science and medicine in a collaborative, safe and ethical manner

The Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation hosted the “Unite to Cure” conference at the Vatican last month. (Courtesy the Cura Foundation/Unite To Cure: Fourth International Vatican Conference)

The power of medical research is rapidly moving from the lab to the patient.

Since the 21st Century Cures Act was passed in 2016, we’ve seen exponential progress in personalized, data-driven medicine and regenerative and gene therapies that will help prevent and treat disease, and even cure patients. Swift advances in science hold great promise for patients in need. At the same time, we must maintain our national standards for safety and ethical responsibility.