Friday, March 2, 2012

CHI Spotlight: Opening a New Door for Unfunded Research Projects

Marc Boutin
The National Health Council (NHC) is the only organization of its kind that brings together all segments of the health community to provide a united voice for the more than 133 million people with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers. Made up of more than 100 national health-related organizations and businesses, its core membership includes approximately 50 of the nation’s leading patient advocacy groups, which control its governance.

Marc Boutin serves as the organization’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. Throughout his career, he has been actively involved in health advocacy, policy, and both federal and state legislation. He has designed and directed advocacy strategies for legislative initiatives, which have included issues ranging from access to healthcare to cancer prevention. Before joining the Council, Boutin served as the vice president of government relations and advocacy at the American Cancer Society for New England. In addition, he was a faculty member at Tufts University Medical School, where he lectured on healthcare policy.

Q: I understand the National Health Council has started a new program that connects promising biomedical research with funding sources. Talk a little about the impetus for your newest endeavor,

A: HealthResearchFunding.Org was conceived several years ago by a group of chief medical officers and research directors from NHC member patient advocacy organizations. They recognized the need to make the best use of the significant expertise and funds spent on the rigorous scoring of research proposals. With the help of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NHC set out to develop an innovative solution to make the most out of the nation's investment in biomedical research.

Q: How might someone who is interested participate?

A: Researchers whose proposals have been peer reviewed, deemed meritorious, but unfunded by either the NIH or by an NHC member organization, are invited to register with Once registered, researchers can upload requests for proposals and search for funding sources. There is no charge for use of the site by investigators or their institutions.

By using this online resource, potential research supporters can avoid duplication of effort and more efficiently identify and evaluate peer-reviewed research proposals. On the other hand, researchers gain another opportunity to showcase their worthy proposals and possibly find a funding source.

The database will be expanded later this year to include NHC business and industry members and funding sources outside NHC membership.

Q: Who may search the database?

A: Registered investigators have the ability to search for funding sources through the database, but cannot view or search for proposals from other researchers. Funding sources are able to search for research proposals, individual researchers and information from other funding organizations.

Q: How does help researchers?

A: helps researchers obtain a broad audience of potential funding sources from the nonprofit sector for their proposed research.

By offering investigators the opportunity to promote their peer-reviewed research proposals through the database, we hope to increase the likelihood of potential funding for worthy health research. By utilizing the database, researchers gain an organized and unvarying environment in which to exhibit their proposals alongside their peers. As the system grows, their respective research institutions could spend less time, effort, and resources looking for financial support and more time conducting research to aid in the development of new treatments for patients.

Q: How does this database help funding sources?

A: helps participating funding organizations avoid duplication of effort as they seek to fund research by making use of the significant public investment of intellectual capital, time, and funds in the NIH and NHC member peer review process. When on the database, funding organizations are able to upload requests for proposals and have the ability to post ideas for collaboration with other funding sources.

Q: What is the ultimate goal for this program?

Our goal is to help researchers and funding sources in their development of new treatments and cures for people with chronic conditions.

To do so, we hope to expedite the process by which participating non-government funding organizations underwrite biomedical research by linking them with researchers whose proposals to NIH and NHC member organizations have been deemed meritorious and worthwhile.

To learn more, visit or write to

CHI-Advancing California biomedical research and innovation

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