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Once the ice melts, ALS research will suffer

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The ALS Association probably had no idea just how outrageously successful the Ice Bucket Challenge would be.

But what happens when the ice melts?

Last year at this time, the association raised just $2 million. To date, the challenge has raised a record $42 million — and counting — but it’s ultimately only a dent in the amount of money needed to continue research.

According to NBC News, the National Institutes of Health is responsible for allocating federal funds to research organizations, but in recent years, their budget has been cut. To make matters, worse, they are the “biggest funder of biomedical research in the world,” according to NIH Director Francis Collins.

[P]rivate donations are a figurative drop in the bucket compared to U.S. government funding. NIH pays out $30 billion a year for medical research, compared to about $5 billion raised by philanthropy in 2007.

But that number is dropping, and it would take about 1 million people donating $100 a year for 30 or 40 years before there might even be a breakthrough in ALS, to make up for NIH cuts, said Dr. Jonathan Serody of the University of North Carolina.

“These flash-in-the pan things that will go away after a few months will not help ALS in the long run. Researchers need dependable money,” he said.

The best way to continue supporting ALS research — along with other medical research foundations — is to write to Congress and demand they stop cutting the NIH’s budget.

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