Ballot initiative Seeks Funds for Brain Research

By Czarina Ara Lasco

Oct 25, 2016 06:00 AM EDT

The Initiative 181 is bound to create a Montana Biomedical Research Authority which could request up to $20 million annually for 10 consecutive years leading towards further research of brain injuries, illnesses and diseases.

The team would be consisting of an independent panel of health-care workers, patient advocacy groups, veterans, as well as Montana Indian tribes. They would administer the awarding of grants to several state universities, hospitals and research facilities. More so, if they go together with a non-profit state research, certain private pharmaceutical companies could also be of benefit from the said grants.

Behind this initiative is the Montanans for Research and Cures.

Randy Gray, Group Chairman, held that the act was designed to be flexible. Montana-based biomedical research organizations could apply for the grants to encourage new researchers and scientists, procure better technology and to develop therapy development.

"We're talking about creating hope for the tens of thousands of Montanans facing things like post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, Alzheimer's, brain cancers," Gray furthered.

"These are issues that every Montanan has been affected by."

Gray is also the chairman of the Great Falls-based McLaughlin Research Institute of Biomedical Research which is one of the institutions Gray claimed that hopes to benefit from their team's initiative.

NIH lost 22 percent of its research funds due to budget cuts from 2003 to 2015. In 2015, Congress increased the NIH budget by 5.9 percent, but still lower that its 2012 budget.

"That's fewer grants for everyone and fewer advancements in understanding health issues on the rise," said Gray. "Montana could hold its own in this venture - we're already doing some of this work ... but we're not going to get anywhere without supporting research."

The Montana Bonds to Fund Biomedical Research Authority, I-181 is on the November 8, 2016, ballot as an initiated state statute.

"It's not like I want to live 500 years, but it's so important, on a state level, a national and international level, to understand these illnesses," Gray said. "We could see an explosion of understanding and treatment opportunities in our state, so this isn't something families still have to face generations from now."

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