American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today on the passing of Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.):
“The American Heart Association is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Arlen Specter. Senator Specter was a great believer in the hope and promise of medical research. He firmly believed that our nation’s investment in research was essential to achieving the one thing all Americans strive for – a long, healthy life.
His conviction and commitment to federal support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was a passion that preceded his own personal health struggles. He fought to double the NIH budget, and in more recent years, secured a $10 billion increase for the agency in the economic stimulus law. Senator Specter’s dedication to promoting the NIH meant support for heart and stroke research, and helped move us closer to our goal of improving the cardiovascular health of every American.
His outstanding leadership on behalf of the NIH was an accomplishment that the American Heart Association honored him twice with our National Public Service Award, in 1999 and 2003.
Senator Specter often referred to the NIH as the “crown jewel” of federal government. His brilliance as a stalwart defender of medical research will long be remembered as one of his crowning achievements.”